Bible/Scripture

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April 1

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

Have you ever read a Scripture before-perhaps hundreds of times-and either not really paid attention or never really grasped its weight? I have. In fact, today’s Scripture is one of them. I actually read this passage a couple of days ago and it stopped me in my tracks as its meaning hit me. I revisited it this morning. Here is the Scripture: “You search the Scripture because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness of me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)  The old KJV gave it as an imperative: “Search the Scripture…”  It is true the word “search” can be seen as a command, but it is better seen as implying diligent scrutiny in investigating the Scripture.

As I’ve tried to read more on apologetics, once common strain seems to come out. Many (most) agnostics and atheists know the Scriptures better than many who say they are followers of Jesus. Of course, their knowledge is just that-knowledge. Head knowledge. They have done what Jesus describes here. They know the Scriptures “but refuse to come to Him that they may have life.” In the Pharisees’ efforts to be religious they knew the law of the Scripture, but they did not know the heart of the Scripture. All they had pointed to Jesus as Messiah, but they never saw it.  They knew the Scriptures alright, but not the One they pointed to.

That begs the question: how do I know the Scripture? As a club to be wielded or as a light pointing to the True Light-Jesus?

“Father, as I read and study the Scriptures, make Yourself clearer to me. Help me to continue learning truths from Your Word. Let me read the Scriptures as life that point me to You.”

March 18

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020

How’s this for a kick in the teeth or a slap in the face?  All Scripture is from Proverbs 18.

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” (v.2)

The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; the foundation of wisdom is a bubbling brook.” (v.4)

“A fool’s lips walk into a fight, and his mouth invites a beating.  A fool’s mouth is his ruin, and his lips are a snare to his soul. The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body.” (Vv.6-8)

“If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” (v.13)

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (v.21)

Need I say more or add to them? It is a malady that runs through my veins and is in my blood. I’m not alone. We would all do well to “keep our trap shut” as my grandfather used to say, and weigh our words.

“Father, it is easy to see the devastation my words bring. Help me to show restraint and remember death and life come from the same place.”

December 17

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Burning vs Heeding.

One of the more comically sad sections of Scripture is found in Jeremiah 36. It is one those places where as you read you don’t know whether to laugh at the image conjured up in your mind or be sad by its reality.

Okay, so Jehoiakim (J from here on) is king. He has fallen far from his father Josiah’s status as king. According to 2 Chronicles 36:5 it says, “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord his God.” In fact, J was one of the last kings to rule in Judah before Nebuchadnezzar (Neb) captured Jerusalem and sacked it for good. He was, in fact, one of the kings taken captive by Neb. Anyway, Jeremiah was told to write down the words J needed to hear and to deliver them. Jeremiah had his scribe, Baruch, do both.

Baruch did as he was told and when asked where the scroll came from and how he came to write those words, he was honest and told them they were dictated to him by Jeremiah. And now comes the comically sad part. The king sent Jehudi to get the scroll and then as he read them to the king, the king would cut them off 3 or 4 columns at a time and burn them. I see it comically sad because of the picture conjured in my mind of the king hearing but then basically saying (by burning the words), “Out of sight; out of mind.” It is like two pictures developing. One, of pure obstinence and disrespect for Jeremiah’s (and by proxy God’s words), and the other of him burning up the scroll as though that will make it all go away.

Then it hits me how that is sometimes a picture of people as they read the Word. They blatantly discard the teaching of the Word and even at times like to pretend its not there. They go on to live their life in rebellion or disrespect for God’s truth and His Word.

And lest I point a finger at “they,” I must remember there is a finger pointing directly at my own heart as well. Knowing what God’s Word says but pretending it doesn’t exist should not even be part of me.

“Father, help me not to be Jehoiakim in spirit or in action. Help me not to disrespect You, Your true messengers, or Your Word. And most definitely help me not to pretend Your Word doesn’t speak truth.”

November 15/Weekend

Friday, November 15th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Read, Relish and React.

Have you ever read a passage of Scripture many times before and then just one time there is this (dare I say magical powerful) moment when during one reading you feel like you have been hit by a sledgehammer or that the light has gone on LED? It has happened to me many times before…today was another.

I’ve been reading through Isaiah the past couple weeks as I read through the OT. Yesterday I read the great Messianic prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion found in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. This morning I read Isaiah 55. There is so much there, especially in things we say or hear but may not know where they came from.  Read slowly please:

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” (v.6)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (8-9)

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (11)

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (12)  {Note: this one of the early worship songs by the Maranatha Singers}

Powerful words. Let God’s Word wash over you today and this weekend. Prepare yourself for worship this Sunday by reading and rereading these verses.

“Father, You said your word would not return void (empty). I’m trusting for that in my life today and this weekend.”

November 7

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Answered vs Unanswerable.

Have you ever noticed there are some Scriptures which simply take your breath away in their breadth and scope of reach? I’m going to ask you to do something I’ve never done before-something I have already done. STOP reading this devotion and read Isaiah 40 first. Please. Oh yeah…be prepared to be awed.

READING ISAIAH 40

Thanks. Did you notice the rhetorical questions (questions asked but no answer expected)? Isaiah 40 is filled with them. List them. Verse 12.  Verse 13 (2 of them). Verse 14 (several). Verse 18. Verse 25.

But those alone are not enough. Look at the “Do you not know? Have you not heard?” questions. (Verses 21 & 23).

Anchoring all of this is a verse you may have skipped over (thanks to my “guidance.”) But now go back and read it. “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever.” (V.8)  There’s the anchor!! God’s Word has been, is now, and always will be. His Word never changes. Why? Because it is God’s Word and He never changes. Trying to explain an unexplainable God and trying to understand all that means is like trying to answer rhetorical questions. You can’t answer it because it is too lofty. (Brain explodes here). I can only say, “I believe.”

“Father, words truly fail me. Try as I may I’m lost. Take these inadequate but humble thoughts and accept them as they are intended: praise and adoration of and for a matchless God.”

October 25/Weekend

Friday, October 25th, 2019

My title is Questions vs Amazed.

My Scripture reading today was in Isaiah 10-11. I was not expecting what I saw in chapter 11. It leaves me with questions but also encouragement. The passage with questions will mean I’ll have to study it.

My question is 11:1-5. Is this talking about David, or Jesus, or both? I’ll be interested to find out. At first I thought Jesus. Then I thought David. Then I thought both.  Hmmmm.

The amazing part is verses 6-9. All the animals, natural enemies all, are peacefully with each other.

  • wolf dwells with the lamb
  • leopard lies down with a young goat
  • calf, lion and fattened calf together
  • little child will lead them
  • cow and bear shall graze
  • their young lie down together
  • the lion shall eat straw like an ox
  • nursing child will play over a cobra’s den
  • weaned child put hand in an adder’s den

As you can see they are natural enemies and yet they will be together peacefully. My initial thinking is this is in the new kingdom or this is just imagery of when Jesus reigns.

What do you think?

“Father, questions are always there. If I had or knew all the answers I wouldn’t need You or Your Word. Thanks for giving me an inquiring mind. May I always seek Your wisdom in all things.”

Vacation Scripture #1

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Jo and I are on our much-needed trip away-a trip to Alaska-courtesy of the folks at OVCF (the church I pastor). It was given to us after a tough season of ministry (losing two very close friends to cancer within a few weeks of each other) and in celebration of 45 years of my ordination.  Since I won’t be taking my computer and despise using my phone to do any type of blogging, I will be basically incognito from Tuesday, September 3 through Tuesday, September 10. I plan (notice the word Plan) to be back in the office on Wednesday and therefore resume my regular devotions.

So in anticipation of that, I thought I would share with you the Scriptures from Proverbs I underlined my last time through (August). I try to read a chapter of Proverbs for a month, every other month.  So here is the Scripture I highlighted on August 3rd.

“Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.”

There is something to be said about submission to God’s wisdom. A good something.

Now it’s your turn to think about it.

August 12

Monday, August 12th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Words of the Wise vs Words of a Fool.

There is no question that words have power. Listen to the babbling of a politician or pundit. Listen to a drill sergeant. Listen to a teacher/professor. Listen to a coach. Listen to a false teacher or preacher. Words have the power for good and for evil.

The words of Proverbs 12 ring out in their truthfulness and forthrightness. I’m going to put those verses here and let Scripture speak for itself.

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. (v.15)

The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult. (v.16)

Whoever speaks the truth gives honest evidence, but a false witness utters deceit. (v.17)

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. (v.18)

Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment. (v.19)

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight. (v.22)

Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad. (v.25)

Those words of Scripture speak for themselves. No commentary is needed. The only question which remains is what can I/what can you do to make my/your words life-giving instead of life-sucking?

“Father, help me to measure my words. Help my words to be words of wisdom. Words that give life. Words of truth. Words that build up. Transform my words today.”

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Notice: Due to a mess up of notification (My site is unstable or something like that) I have had to go to Feedburner. The WordPress notification was sending an https address instead of an http one, therefore sending the wrong site address. Several have notified me. Ryan says you will probably have to sign up again to receive notice of a new post. I apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for being patient.

August 2/Weekend

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

My title for this devotion is Words of man vs Word of God.

It is not uncommon today, or any day for that matter, for people to put their trust in men. It has been happening since the beginning of time. I guess we see it more now since it affects us directly. We have seen the “rise” of superstar people because people have put a lot of stock in what they say. I’m speaking of the religious community specifically. We have “Christian celebrity” preachers who are millionaires or who make well into the 6 figures because gullible people hang on their every word as though it is true. They fall hook, line, and sinker for their lies. It seems ungodly and is appalling for these “Christian” speakers to live in the lap of luxury while many of their followers live from day-to-day looking for that elusive golden egg. The deception of false teaching is sad. The hero status placed on the heads of these people is nauseating. A man hawking miracle water. Grave sucking. Destiny cards. False healings. “Holy” laughter. Speakers making spectacles of themselves. It goes on and on.

All of their garbage teaching is based on “the Lord told me.” “The Lord told me to tell you to give to my work and you will be blessed many-fold.” What they don’t tell you is how lined their pockets are. We simply MUST weigh every word said by the Word of God. The Scripture twisting they employ MUST be checked. Some will say, “How can I do that?” Proverbs 2:6-8 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth came knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.”

Come to Him with a sincere desire to know and gain His wisdom. If we could set aside our desire for earthly gain we can see His clear Word. Paul told Timothy this would happen, that people would want their ears tickled. It has been, is now, and will be what happens. There will always be someone to come along as the “next best thing.” It will continue to run rampant UNLESS we stop seeking earthly ease and satisfaction and start seeking Him. God has not promised health and wealth to His people; He has promised His presence in and through all things.

“Father, Your wisdom is perfect. Your Word is perfect and it is life. May I seek your perfect wisdom in all things. Help me not to be enamored by things here, but keep my eyes on You.”

July 12

Friday, July 12th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Deaf Ears vs Hearing Well.

It is Friday and the weekend. My favorite part of the week will be here in two days: Sunday. I love Sundays! Oh sure, I get to preach-probably one of my favorite things of all. I get to see people I have grown to love. Interact. Laugh. Cry. Hug.  But I also get to take a “look” into God’s Word. This is a high and holy privilege I simply don’t want to take for granted. This has been heightened this morning by reading a portion of Psalm 119 (I have been here all week). Rather than “pontificate” on the Scripture, I’m going to let the Scripture speak.

“Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. Your faithfulness endures to all genertations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.” [v.89]

“Oh how I love your law! It is my mediation all the day.” [v.97]

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” [v.105]

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.” [v.114]

“Deal with your servant according to your steadfast love, and teach me your statutes.” [v.124]

“Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me.” [v.135]

Simple. Profound. Convicting. Punchy (to the point). Encouraging. Revealing. Applicable. Can’t get much better than that!! I liked them all (obviously), but the one I re-a-a-a-a-lly liked was the last one. We all have a sin or two or three or ……. that seems to dog our tracks. The Scripture seems to be saying if I walk His path and stick to His Word, I can have victory over sin, especially those I struggle with on a more consistent basis.

“Father, may Your Word be my refuge and my guide, not just this weekend; not just this coming week; but for all time. May Your Word be a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”