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Monday, February 7, 2022

Disciplined Freedom

Disciplined Freedom

From time to time I read Valley of Vision (VV) in my Quiet Time.  Typically, I will read an entry and then daily go back through it thought by thought.  It has been interesting to see how often what I have read in VV has aligned or is supported by what I read in the Word that day.

For example, some months back I read in the section entitled “Requests”,

O God, May I never be a blot or a blank in life, or make my liberty and occasion to the flesh. (p 274)

That Day I read Galatians 5:13 (here @ BibleGateway), which lead me to 2 Peter 2:18 (here @ BibleGateway).  The clear message of the word and the quote from VV is that while we are free in Him, we cannot allow our freedom to hurt others.  

In 1 Corinthians 8 (here @ BibleGateway), Paul, while affirming the freedom of the Corinthian believers to eat meat sacrificed to idols, because, in fact, they are false, at the same time reminds them that if a fellow believer struggles with that freedom, they should not exercise their freedom for the sake of their “weaker” brother.  He tells them to limit their freedom in order not to cause their brother to stumble.

Paul repeats this exhortation in Romans 14:15 (here @ BibleGateway).  In fact, this was the first passage that I applied to my life as a new believer.  I was in Pilot Training in the Air Force.  The Officer’s Club was the place to be after the flight line.  Drinking beer was part of that scene as was playing foosball.  One Sunday night at First Baptist, I was attending “training union” with some other young adults.  We were going through Romans 14 (here @ BibleGateway).  The topic came up that we probably shouldn’t be drinking because it might damage our testimony to those who were not believers.  I pointed out that verse 14 (here @ BibleGateway) clearly stated nothing wrong with anything.  The leader emphasized the last part of the verse.  That part is nearly identical to the argument in 1 Corinthians 8.

If someone thinks that believers should not drink and they saw me drinking, it could be that I either damaged their faith or else hindered them from coming to the Lord.  I pondered that for some time.  As a matter of fact, I stayed behind after the meeting and worked through it alone.  I decided then that I would no longer drink beer or other alcoholic beverages in order not to cause others to stumble.

I learned through that experience both the impact of application and the importance of voluntarily limiting my freedom to better serve those with whom I wanted to sustain ministry.


Saturday, February 5, 2022

Grace in the Morning

Grace in the Morning

Ever feel like this world is against you?  Read Psalm 90 (here @ BibleGateway).  Focus for a second on verses 14 – 15 (here @ BibleGateway).  It looks like it pretty much is against us.  Now consider Genesis 3:16 – 19 (here @ BibleGateway) and compare that to Genesis 1:28 – 31 (here @ BibleGateway).

Notice that the curses in 3 are in direct contrast with assignments Adam and Eve are given in 1.  They were to fill the earth, subdue it, and rule over it.  Instead, because of their disobedience, Adam now had to deal with a cursed ground that would now resist his efforts to live to say nothing of the assignment to subdue.  

Eve was to be a helper and the mother of all living.  Rather than be a helper she now would want to dominate Adam.  Further, the fruitful and multiply assignment was going to be accompanied by greatly multiplied pain.

So the deck was now stacked against them, and by extension us.  Life moved from a lush garden to a harsh cursed and fallen world into which we have arrived.

Moses reminds us in his prayer that to navigate this cursed world we must cling to the grace of God each morning.  That would seem like a strong recommendation to start each day in His Word and asking for the grace we need to make it through that day.

Friday, February 4, 2022

Naïve no More

Full disclosure – This post is the tip of the iceberg on this topic.  I need to spend more time on this but it is too good to let slide.

Naïve no More
In October I made a note in my journal on Proverbs 14:15 (here @ BibleGateway).  This week I was reading through Siddartha Mukherjee’s book, The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (I would highly recommend this book, for a number of reasons.  If nothing else to understand more fully how scientific method, which is derivative of theological method, is applied to real problems.  By extension, the book gives insight on how observations lead to breakthroughs in knowledge and at the same time outlines how observation is obscured and it’s results resisted and thwarted), and ran across this sentence:

To a naive observer, the scenario might produce a strange effect. (Mukherjee, Siddhartha. The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer (p. 230). Scribner. Kindle Edition.)

Obviously the context here is important, but beyond what I want to explore.  My first reaction to this was what makes a person a naïve observer?  Then I remembered Proverbs 14:15 (here @ BibleGateway).  

The next question then is how does one move from being a naïve observer to one whose observations are not naïve.  

This is where a full-fledged study of two of the key words in the text of 14:15, “naïve” and “consider” would be of significant help.  However enticing that sounds, and to me it sounds and looks like a sumptuous feast, I don’t have time or energy tonight to dive in.  You might consider looking up both words in your concordance and looking how they are used in other passages.

The intriguing thing for me is how does one move beyond naïve observations in their Bible study.  I think the answer is in the text of the Bible.  Again there is more here, but a good starting point would be Psalm 119:18 (here @ BibleGateway), pray and ask the Lord to help you see.  As I have mentioned, in 119 the psalmist asks for help to understand His Word, 56 times.

Second, Psalm 119:130 (here @ BibleGateway), tells us that the Word gives understanding to the simple.  The interesting thing here is that these are the same two Hebrew words that are in Proverbs 14:15.  Perhaps abiding in, studying the Word of God is the answer to move from being naïve in one’s observations.

Psalm 119:98 – 100 (here @ BibleGateway) seem to bear this out.