Bible/Scripture

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October 6

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

I believe if there is one thing which could change the course of our faith-derail it even-it would be the validity of the resurrection of Jesus.  If someone could somehow prove it never happened everything falls apart. I just finished reading I Cor. 15 in One Faithful Life by John MacArthur. In his commentary he gives Paul’s 6 disastrous consequences if there were no resurrection. Here they are:

  1. Preaching Christ would be senseless. (v.14)
  2. Faith in Christ would be useless. (v.14)
  3. All the witnesses and preachers of the resurrection would be liars.  (v.15)
  4. No one would be redeemed from sin. (v.17)
  5. All former believers would have perished. (v.18)
  6. Christians would be the most pitiable people on earth. (v.19)

As you can see quite a bit of weight lands on the resurrection. Quite a bit of truth is dependent on the resurrection. When you think about it, that explains why so much effort has been put in by skeptics to somehow disprove its validity.

And that is good news for us! We stand on truth.  If the resurrection were not true they would not be trying so hard to find loopholes and use flimsy excuses. Standing on truth is a good place and solid place to plant our feet.

“Father, thank you for the resurrection. It is the hope of all mankind. It is the rock of all Christ-followers.”

August 26

Wednesday, August 26th, 2020

Each morning as I sit at the table to have my Quiet Time, I start out with these words: “Father, speak to me through Your Word this morning. Show me something I need for today.” I base that on Psalm 119:18- “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” The words to the old hymn ring out in my mind as well: “Open my eyes that I may see/Glimpses of truth Thou has for me.”  (How did that King James word get in there?) 🙂

Sometimes when I come to His Word, He surprises me with something momentous. A truth I once knew that needed “shored up.” A conviction I need to heed, especially of sin. A verse that speaks anew to my heart. An encouragement for a tough time. An answer for a vexing question. A reassurance for a time of questions. A light for a time of lostness or doubt.

In old days (the 1800s) people used to consider catastrophic events, like when their life was spared, as their “conversion experience.” You know…”I was walking through the woods when a tree fell and barely missed me. That was God calling me to salvation.” Well…I sorta doubt that was a point of conversion, although whom am I to say it didn’t ruffle some feathers and wake someone up? What I do know is sometimes my experience with God in His Word is quiet and even, while at other times His truth explodes on me.  And what I DO know is this: however God chooses to speak through His Word, I need to listen, to perk up, and say with Isaiah, “Here I am Lord.”  Let me offer a challenge here. Next time you come to the Word to read it, ask God to open your eyes to let you see what He has for you. Then read expectantly.

“Speak Lord as I read Your Word. Open my eyes to see as the song says, ‘Glimpses of truth You have for me.’ ”

July 21

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

I have begun another adventure. No, I’m not doing the Race Across America (a bike ride from coast to coast). And no, I’m not leaving the church to take on a new ministry.  And definitely no I’m not going mountain climbing. As good as all those sound (to a younger guy).

Mine is a reading/studying venture. As I finished One Perfect Life by John MacArthur, I knew I had just read the complete (recorded) life of Jesus. I so thoroughly enjoyed that I decided to continue that task by reading One Faithful Life (OFL) by Pastor John on the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul.  Chuck Swindoll wrote: “A primary purpose of the Word of God is to help us know the will of God.” (July 21 devotion in Good Morning, Lord…Can we Talk?).  With that thought in mind, why did Paul write his epistles? OFL does a great job of summarizing why. I’ll shrink it some more.

  • I Cor- defend against various corruptions which were under the guise of human wisdom and carnal chaos.
  • 2 Cor- defending his authority as an apostle and the purity of the gospel.
  • Gal- against false teachers who taught we must adhere to OT ceremonial law.
  • Eph- salvation is entirely God’s work with no human merit.
  • Phil- joy undiminished by “dogs,” “mutilators of the flesh” refuted in Galatians.
  • Col- defense vs high-falootin’ philosophy and man’s traditions.
  • 1 & 2 Thess- commendation to the church for embracing the Gospel.
  • 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus- careful safeguard the truth
  • Philemon- exemplify the spirit of Christ.

“Gospel truth permeates everything Paul ever wrote.” (OPL- p. xix) I look forward to this new venture.  New eye-opening.  New awareness. New “eyes” to see God’s truth.  And I plan to share some of it along the way.

“Father,  open my eyes to Your Word. Give me fresh eyes as I read to see new vistas before me. Clarify Your truth in my heart.”

June 30

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

One of the members of “the Trinity” is misunderstood. Well…He does get a bad rap sometimes and, at times, is often forgotten. It is pretty obvious I’m not speaking about God the Father or God the Son. God the Holy Spirit is the One often looked at with shady eyes and raised brows. I think some of that is because of ignorance and some is because we treat Him with such mystery. We think He’s a ghost-like Casper- friendly, but oh so eerie.

I was ignorant of the Holy Spirit for many years. I knew He existed but was “afraid” of Him. I focused on Jesus and my first experience with raised hands brought a cold sweat to my body. I learned then and have continued learning about the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

John 16:8-11, part of the Scripture I read this morning, offers some help but, if you are like me, there may have been some confusion as to what those verses meant. As a result the Holy Spirit’s purpose stayed cloudy. I do know this: the Holy Spirit’s purpose was never to draw attention to Himself. His purpose was and is to always glorify Jesus. ALWAYS.  That’s why to draw attention to the Spirit in song or to the manifestations of the Spirit is wrong. John 16 tells us He was to do three things: convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment.

  • Convict of sin- the specific sin of not believing in Jesus as Messiah-the only sin not forgivable, that damns people to hell.
  • Convict of righteousness- this might be better understood as self-righteousness (hypocrisy). He exposes the blackness of our own heart.
  • Convict of judgement- the context is that of the world under Satan’s control. The world cannot judge itself because it is blind, sinful and evil. (Current events show that).

The Holy Spirit is not really a ghost- an apparition. He has a specific purpose.  And He accomplishes it all by always drawing attention to Christ and the cross.

“Father, help me to understand more. Help me to see the Holy Spirit’s influence in my life and allow Him to do His work in me.”

Note: I’m indebted to Pastor John MacArthur for his “help” this morning.

June 26

Friday, June 26th, 2020

Sometimes I will make the statement to someone- “That’s not a hill I want to die on.” It could be about anything really, but it is especially true when speaking of Bible teaching.  I recently was reading a book by Gavin Ortlund called Finding the Right Hill to Die On. Long story short: it divides into 3 tiers the doctrines we find important. #1 is the essential where there can be no compromise. You must believe them. #2 are those which are important but allow for some differences (mode of baptism for example). #3 are those which really are of no consequence to our salvation (like your view of the 2nd Coming).

A #1 tier would be what I read today in John 14. Verse 6 says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the Father but by me.” This statement cannot be sloughed off as non-incidental.  Non-essential. Look at that verse again. I am THE way; not A way. I am THE truth; not A truth; I am THE life; not A life. There is no mixing those up.

Our culture would have us believe there are many ways to God; there are many truths to believe; and life can be found in temporal things. W.R.O.N.G!!! Jesus is the only way to God because He is the truth of God (Jn.1:14) and the life of God (Jn.1:4). This verse shows the exclusiveness of Jesus. Let me repeat that: this verse shows the exclusiveness of Jesus. He is not one of many; He is the only One. And even though it may sound narrow, get this wrong and you get it wrong. All cults (JW, Mormons, Bethel included) all mess up here. He is fully God and fully man. He was God in the flesh from birth to death. There is no one like Him. No question. No hesitation. No equivocation. No fudging. No part way.

CHOOSE!

“Father, I choose Jesus. I choose to worship Him as the one and only way, truth and life. That is a hill I will die on.”

May 20

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

These are interesting times. And, as can be expected, times like this brings the conspiracy theorists out of the woodwork. Along with the cultural conspiracy theorists (who did this; where did it start; who’s behind it; what are they hiding; etc.), we also have what I will call the “prophecy theorists.”  This time is a link to something in the Bible-Daniel or Revelation to be sure- that is a “sign” of or the beginning of the signs for the second coming of Jesus.

Now, I’m not knocking prophecy. It is obviously a vital part of the biblical landscape, but there are some who spend every waking moment looking for signs. On a recent visit someone asked me about my eschatology. I gave my stock answer: “I’m a panmillenialist because it will all pan out in the end.” I’m not trying to be disrespectful to prophecy buffs, and especially to God and His Word, but how many times does someone have to be told that not even Jesus knew when He was coming back? I went on to tell this person that my rule of thumb is to say, “I don’t know the signs or the when, but what I do know is that when Jesus returns, you better be ready.”

I think that has credence thanks to Luke 12:35-48. Jesus says, “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find them watching…And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.” As I see it, my responsibility is not to look for and interpret “signs” but to be ready and help others be ready when Jesus returns. I will continue, and always will continue, believing Jesus is returning. When? Who knows. All I do know is I want to be that servant who is ready and expectant for when He does. I sincerely hope you are also ready.

“Father, You have promised Jesus will return. I believe that. You have said He could come at any time. I believe that too. Help me to live as a servant who is ready for his master to return.”

May 18

Monday, May 18th, 2020

Do you have a daily routine? What is it? Pre-covid, that is, since many routines have changed. Many conduct work from  home so they stay in their pj’s or sweats all day, except above the waist. 🙂  No question things have changed. I’ve been fortunate though. My routine hasn’t changed. Up at 3:30; Quiet Time; office about 5; study; office work; ride or lunch; drive-bys; office to close out; home for the evening (unless I have a meeting). I realize not everyone’s day is like mine. But in some way we are all alike.

Pre-Covid we rolled out of bed, grabbed a quick bite, then rushed out the door to beat the traffic on our way to work. Rinse. Repeat. But what would happen if we changed all that around? Well, my philosophy is the dark/night is for sleeping (unless you work the night shift). So instead of rushing around your day would start with a slow move toward bed! You would lay your head down and rest. All night long. Your day would have been in “progress” for 8 hours or so before you were even aware of it. Welcome to the Jewish world in the Bible!! That’s right. A Jewish day actually began in the evening (6:00). So they rested and slept and then got up to the realization that God was already at work. In fact, He’s been at it all night long since He never sleeps or slumbers. Psalm 121:3-4 says that.

How different when our day begins with resting in the One who never rests, sleeps, or slumbers! What a difference from our get-up-and-go life! Take a moment right now and do what I just did as I wrote this devotion. Stop and read all of Psalm 121 in total. Don’t worry it is only 8 verses. 🙂 Meditate on it. Dissect it. What a rich psalm! This is mine and your psalm and word for today.

“Father, help me to rest in You. Help me to hold fast to One who is sure. Help me to begin my day at rest, knowing You were awake all night.”

May 11

Monday, May 11th, 2020

Admit it. Go ahead. There is no shame in it. Be honest and admit it. I have had to…even though it kills me to do so. They say the older you get you start forgetting to do things. I want to amend that. The older you get the more you start forgetting. Period. There used to a time when I memorized my sermon word for word. That’s right. Word for word. And I preached them that way. I started giving up on that when I forgot a poem midway through and had to make up the rest. Then it was memorize by clusters.  Or main thoughts. Or key statements. Now it’s called cheat sheets in my Bible or on the pulpit. 🙂

Memorizing verses is the same way. I can remember being a memory machine. Going against the pastor in a head-to-head competition of Scripture memory battle and holding my own. I knew them word for word. Now…when it came to school work my memory suddenly flew out the window. 🙂 🙂 But I digress. I envy those who are young and can memorize Scripture like its the phone number they have committed to memory.

Psalm 119:11 says, “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against You.” Hiding God’s Word in my heart puts a “protective barrier” around it. I read of a young Christian who came to his mentor to show him how he had memorized Scripture. He proceeded to quote the entire Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7). His mentor was amazed and encouraged him not only to “say” but to “live” the words. To which the young man said, “That’s the way I learned them. The Scripture wasn’t sticking so I decided to practice what I memorized on a non-believer. When I did I found it stuck.”

What a unique way of learning Scripture! Sort of hard to forget the “life lessons”…no matter how old you are.

“Father, may Your Word be life to me. Help me to hide it in my heart. May it stand as a barrier between me and sin.”

May 5

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

Every morning my alarm goes off at 3:30 (except Friday which is my day off). I get up; shower; shave on certain days; get dressed; get my glass of ice water; then sit down at the kitchen table where it is deathly quiet (a good thing) and have my Quiet Time. Around 5 I make my way to the office where I put things away I have brought from home, then sit down at the computer and enter this devotion. After that I start working on a sermon.

I do that…like clockwork…almost every day. I rely on sameness to keep me centered. Focused on the task. May I call it tradition?

Yesterday’s devotion focused on how tradition can be bad. But there are times tradition/routine can be good. Each day I have a routine-I’ll call it tradition-of doing the same thing. In my case, almost at the same time. There is a certain comfort level that comes from sameness. I like change; I do change fairly well. But there are some things which should NEVER change. My early morning routine should never change-although it sometimes does due to ministry. I’ve tried it; it doesn’t work. Meeting with others, preaching, laughing, hugging, has all changed over the past 7-8 weeks. I know when I get back to meeting in person it will be hard. But change I must.

When it comes to the truths of the Scripture, there can be no change. No new “enlightenment.” Jesus said to watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees (Mt. 15; Mk.8). Some traditions are good and are never meant to be changed. Stand on the tried and true words and Word of God.

“Father, some things never change. Your Word is certainly one of those things. May I be faithful to You through all time, day in and day out.”

 

April 16

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

One of the good things-or at least it could be a good thing- about this current crisis is that it has offered a time for us to slow down and take stock of our lives. No sports-on TV or live. No youth leagues. No clubs. No travel to meetings. No school. No…well…nothing.  We can’t even eat out in a restaurant, and I KNOW someone who really misses that! (She doesn’t read my blog so I’m safe).  ‘Course that also means no small groups; no church meetings; and no gathering for corporate worship unless it’s all virtual.  There is that but let’s recognize it is not the same. 

What it should have done is slow us down. Instead of binging on the latest shows, it has given us an opportunity to spend time in God’s Word. Some have expressed a deeper hunger for God. Psalm 119 has some interesting verses for us to consider:

  • How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word. (v.9)
  • I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  (v.11)
  • Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.  (v.37)
  • The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of pieces of silver. (v.72)
  • Oh how I love you law! It is my meditation all the day.  (v.97)
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  (v.105)

Jeremiah, the prophet, once wrote: “When your words came, I ate them, they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” (15:16)  I’m wondering if I can say the same thing. Is God’s Word my joy and my delight? If not, why not?

“Father, help me to use this time of slow down to enhance my love for You and Your Word. May it be or become my joy and my heart’s delight.”