Tag Archives: God’s Word

September 29; God Speaks

Matthew 1; Luke 2:21-40, 3:23-38

I’ve heard it said that, of course Joseph believed his fiancé was carrying God’s child. An angel appeared to him and told him about it. Who wouldn’t believe if God sent angels to us like that?

It’s true Joseph believed the baby was the Son of God after that dramatic encounter with the angel. But it occurred to me that Simeon recognized who Jesus was without an angel introducing them. Anna believed Jesus was the Messiah, and I don’t read anything about an angel visit her, either. Simeon and Anna believed the moment they met Jesus.

We have something more wonderful than mere angels relaying messages from God today. We who have accepted His grace, have God Himself living in us. We don’t need to hear from a third party, even one as glorious as an angel, to receive God’s message. He Himself wrote us a love letter, telling us everything we need to know for this life and eternity. We can read His heart any time of the day or night in the pages of Scripture.

Meeting Jesus through the pages of His Holy Word results in the same realization as we see in Simeon and Anna. Jesus is God. He is the Messiah. He is my Savior, and yours. Some people will reject the Truth. But they cannot deny the Truth forever.

God speaks through Scripture. Are you listening?

 

September 27; How?

Joel 3; Malachi 1-4

I don’t know about you, but reading Malachi makes me uncomfortable. Every time God says something, the people question Him. It almost seems like they are insisting God defend His position against them. Just the thought of demanding God explain Himself makes me feel uncomfortable.

But it must not have bothered Israel at the time. God told them He had loved them. “How?” they asked. God told them they were showing contempt for Him. “How?” they asked. And when God said they’d shown contempt by offering defiled food on the altar, the Israelites asked, “How?”

Oh, it doesn’t even end there. The Israelites questioned God when He told them to return to Him, and when He accused them of robbing Him. “How are we to return?” “How do we rob You?”

I might talk like that to a co-worker. It’s doubtful I’d talk like that to an employer. I’m pretty sure I’d never talk like that to my dad. But I can’t even imagine a time when I would be so arrogant to talk like that to a Holy God.

That’s not to say I don’t have questions once in a while. I noticed two key verses in Malachi that tell me how to handle my questions.

(3:7) “Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

(4:4) Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.

If I want to know how I’ve offended God, how I’ve disobeyed, and how I’ve grieved Him; if I want to know what sin is I need look no further than Scripture. Every answer to every question is lovingly written there by God Himself.

So after reading Malachi today, I realize the only “How” I want to come out of my mouth when talking to my Lord is the one followed by, “…can I serve You?”

September 21; A Layer At A Time

Psalm 119:73-176

The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. (verse 130)

I like the word the NIV uses as the “unfolding” of the understanding of God’s Word. The truth is, no one completely  understood Scripture the first time they read it. No one. Not even Billy Graham or Ravi Zacharias. God unfolds understanding through His Word one layer at a time.

For years I would begin with Genesis 1:1 on January 1, determined to read it all by New Year’s Eve, only to find myself still in Exodus in May. Life, my job, stuff took priority over my time in God’s Word.

I began earnestly reading through the Bible every year when I retired in 2011. Before that I may have made it from Genesis to Revelation maybe four times total. But this year, before we welcome 2020 in January, I will have read the Bible cover to cover for the seventh time in eight years, God willing. (I slowed down in 2017-18 and read it through in two years. You can read that journey in the archive of this blog)

I have sat here and considered how God has unfolded understanding of His Word to me over the years. For many years I would read a passage and my thoughts would go to a sermon I had heard about those verses, or a lesson my Sunday School teacher had taught on the subject. I’d remember some author I’d read, and be assured that what I’d always heard was true, that my denomination had a lock on Scripture.

Even when I’d come across a verse that seemed to contradict what I’d always been taught, I’d get out a commentary from a like-minded theologian and rest in his or her take on it. I read the Bible through other people’s eyes.

But today as I consider what the psalmist said, I realize that isn’t the case so often any more. In fact, now when I am reading the Bible, instead of recalling a sermon I’ve heard, my thoughts often go to a parallel Bible verse I’ve read in the past. I recall a Bible story that illustrates the truth I’m reading. I realize God is unfolding understanding of His Word by His Word.

Verse 169 says:

May my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word.

According to your word.

Folks, I am not an intellectual. I was never in gifted classes in school. I graduated from college right in the middle of the academic standings. I am a simple woman.

But God is unfolding the understanding of His Word one layer at a time, because I’m reading it. I’m thinking about it, praying about it. I write about it, but even that is just my personal way of recording what I am learning. The point is God is helping me understand Scripture because I am reading Scripture.

I promise you, if you read the Bible asking God to unfold understanding – HE WILL! He wrote it with you in mind. Of course He wants to help you understand it.

Read it. Then read it again.

September 20; A Real Life Author

Psalms 111, 112, 117, 119:1-72

When I worked in the middle school, we invited one of our students’ favorite authors to come and spend a day with us. This woman had written a series of books about children which had captured the imagination of pre-teens all over the country. And she was coming to visit us!

The kids were in awe when that woman entered a classroom. I have to admit I was a bit awe-struck myself.

Here’s what I remember about that day. The students who had read the books were attentive, and asked great questions. It was almost like they already knew and loved her. They couldn’t get enough of this woman’s story. The students who hadn’t read the books looked bored, either didn’t participate or they asked silly, meaningless questions. And those who hadn’t read the books were the students who were first out of the door when class was over. The others had to be pried away from the author.

The author of Psalm 119 spends 176 verses writing about his love for God’s Word. He believes it, studies it, cherishes it, lives by it, considers it precious. The psalmist knows and loves the Author because he’s spent time reading and learning what the Author has written.

Sometimes I think we put so much emphasis on worshiping and serving God we forget to get to know Him. And the only way we can know Him is by reading what He wrote. I find that the more I read God’s Word, the more I love reading God’s Word. The more I get to know God through His Word, the more I love Him. The more time I spend in God’s Word, the more I want to worship Him in Truth, serve Him out of gratitude for the privilege of knowing Him through His Word.

As I look back on the day that real life author came to town, I realize some of the kids got to hear about her books, the plots and characters, through what other people said about them. But the kids who had spent time actually reading the books got to know the author, could understand the plots and characters because they had experienced them first hand on the pages of the books. It seemed they shared an inside secret with the author the others could not understand.

One day we will all meet the real life Author. Will I know Him as a result of having had the first hand experience of getting to know Him through His Word? Or will I look into His eyes and only know what others have told me about Him?

Well, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hit “publish,” and re-read these psalms today. I’m going to spend some more time with the real life Author.

 

September 16; Getting Our Priorities Straight

Ezra 7:1-8:14; Psalm 106

There’s no question Ezra was used by God in amazing fashion. He was instrumental in re-establishing Jerusalem as the City of God, of re-settling the returning Jews into the Promised Land, and of reminding the Jews of their relationship with God and their need of Him.

But there is one verse that struck me today as I read these verses. Ezra 7:10:

For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.

Sure, Ezra wanted the temple up and running again, he wanted the exiled Jews home again. But he wasn’t devoted to any of that. His devotion was toward God’s Word, for himself and for others. Ezra had his priorities straight. And because he spent time in God’s Word for himself, then shared it with others, he was able to then do great things for God.

Sometimes I think we forget that first important step. We get busy doing things for God, teaching SS, singing in the choir, volunteering, visiting… we neglect our personal time in God’s Word.

Please don’t let this blog, or a commentary, or a study guide replace your time reading the Bible, opening God’s Word and allowing Him to speak to you personally. I mean, I’m glad you drop by here to see what God has impressed on my heart. But don’t ever let that take the place of allowing Him to speak to you directly through the pages of His love letter to you.

What are you devoted to? Let’s be sure we all have our priorities straight.

September 2; True To His Word

Daniel 4:1-37, 7:1-28; 2 Kings 25:27-30; Jeremiah 52:31-34

It wasn’t like he hadn’t been warned. God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream, and the interpretation to Daniel. In essence, God told the king to repent. And if he refused to repent, he would lose everything.

Nebuchadnezzar didn’t repent. He was prideful and self-satisfied, and he liked it that way.

Now here’s what spoke to me this morning. God gave the king a whole year to repent. I’m thinking the man must have thought about what Daniel had told him during those twelve months. He’d already seen proof of God’s power before, so it wasn’t like he could just blow it off.

But a year after his dream, Nebuchadnezzar lost everything because he didn’t heed God’s warning. He lost his kingdom, his wealth, and his sanity. God was true to His Word.

The truth is, God is always throwing out warnings to people. We hear the urgency in His voice as we read His Word. We see His fury in a storm. We witness his tenderness and mercy in the face of a new born baby, and in the face of a new born Christian.

And God is patient. He will continue to work to get our attention, to demonstrate that He alone is worthy of worship. Do not take Him lightly.

Daniel had told Nebuchadnezzar that eventually the king would bow down to God. And after seven years of living like a wild animal, Nebuchadnezzar did just that.

God will be worshiped by you, too. Philippians 2:10-11 tells us ,”that one day, at the name of Jesus, EVERY knee will bow, in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

One day you will know God is True, that Jesus is the Christ, and that He was trying to get you to love Him all your life. I pray you will come to that belief during this lifetime, before you look into His eyes for the first time. I pray that when you do bend your knee on that day in acknowledgment of the truth and glory of God, you will do it out of a heart that has been redeemed by Jesus’ blood, and not out of a heart that refused to accept him while you had a chance.

Please heed God’s warnings. He is true to His Word.

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Another hurricane, another evacuation from this island. Please continue to pray for all who are in the path of Dorian. We thank you.

August 12; Where Do You Live?

Ezekiel 10-13

I thought of what Jesus said in Matthew 7 as I read more of Ezekiel’s vision this morning. God is telling Ezekiel that the Jews were about to face judgment for the sins they’d been committing. The Jews were a religious people. But the religion they were following was an affront to God.

False prophets had lulled them into a stupor, a false sense of security. They seemed to have believed God was just blowing smoke. He’d talked about punishing them for years, and nothing happened yet. They were still free to live like they lived, so there was a message of peace in the land.

I’m ok. You’re ok.

But even though they worshiped in the temple, and identified themselves as God’s chosen people, they were about to find out God is serious about His judgment for disobedience. His patience is not weakness. God told them they were living behind a flimsy whitewashed wall that was about to come falling down upon them.

Jesus told the parable of two men, one wise and one foolish. The wise man, He said, built a house on the strong foundation of the Word of God, and nothing could shake it. The foolish man, however, built his house on sinking sand, and like the flimsy wall in Ezekiel, it collapsed when the winds began to blow.

Last week I took a ten day challenge to read only the Bible, and to let God be the only commentary I considered. I have loved it!

Today I am reminded that God’s Word is the strongest foundation I can build my life upon. Not religion. Not theology. Not opinion. And certainly not myself. There are people out there preaching peace when there is no peace, whole denominations tweaking God’s Word to be politically correct and tolerant. There are some satisfied with religion, and who go through the motions of worship faithfully.

But I’m afraid they are living behind flimsy walls.

So my question for us today is, where are we living? Are we living on lives built on the sure foundation of Jesus? Are we deeply grounded in the Words God Himself breathed into existence? Can our lives withstand the storms of life because our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and His righteousness?

Or are we hiding behind religion, church attendance, love, peace, good deeds? Those sound like flimsy walls on sinking sand to me.

So I’ll ask again. Where do you live?

July 27; Where Is Your Bible?

Jeremiah 16-17; 2 Kings 22:3-20; 2 Chronicles 34:8-33

I find it ironic and sad… and prophetic that Hezekiah found the Book of the Law tucked away inside the temple. The Law that should have been cherished, protected, read, studied, and obeyed was right there, untouched and unused.

I’m wondering where we have placed God’s Word ourselves. Is it tucked away in our bedside tables, gathering dust on our bookshelves, in boxes somewhere in our attics?

I’m wondering where the Church has placed God’s Word. Is it tucked behind tolerance, love, political correctness, fear? Have we set it aside as irrelevant, tradition, or flawed?

Hezekiah discovered God’s Law right there in God’s House. It had been there all the time, but neglect had rendered it ineffective. In the very place where God should have been honored, His Words were tossed aside like yesterday’s news.

When Hezekiah read God’s Word he didn’t just put it back where he found it. He did something important… he shared it! He took it to the king.

After the king heard the Word he also did something important… he repented. Then he encouraged others to repent as well. That Law of God was able to do what God had intended.

It changed lives.

But it had to be used by God’s people in order for it to do that. They read it, obeyed it, told others about it, and made it the standard for living. People don’t just “get” God by having a Bible in the home, or by going to church on Sunday, or by having a mother who is a child of God. People “get” God when they accept what it is He says through His Word.

So, where is your Bible, dear one?

Where is your Bible, Church?

July 6; It Won’t Happen To Me

July 6: Isaiah 19-21

As I look at Isaiah’s prophecy – not only  through the lens of a microscope concerning peoples and nations thousands of years ago, but as the living Word of God relevant in 2019 – I recognize me. God lovingly has inspired men to write His thoughts, His demands, His heart down on paper so that there can be no excuse. I have been warned.

God is no fool. His will will be done. If I obey He will bless. If I don’t, He will demand an account. There is no middle ground.

“But it can’t happen to me,” I say. And I would be wrong.

I wish our country – our world – would figure that out, too. The warning God gave to the nations through Isaiah can still be applied today. If we don’t learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat that sordid history ourselves. If we don’t read the Bible, know the history of the Jews, and our own history as a nation, we set ourselves up for repeating the mistakes, and suffering the consequences our ancestors experienced.

I guess I’m thinking about that this morning as I read God’s Word in light of recent events in our country. Do you know our history enough to know that Kaepernick is wrong about the Betsy Ross flag, that he has single handedly made a fool of an entire shoe company, and the 2020 presidential hopefuls of an entire political party? And many in our nation are cheering them on.

I am flabbergasted. It’s insane.

But God has been warning us for centuries. There are liars out there, He tells us. There are manipulators, false gods, nice people who are working for the devil and would lure you away from the truth with smiles on their faces. And God is telling us it’s our responsibility to recognize them.

“Look at Me,” God says. “Know Me. Listen to My voice. Obey Me.”

We might wonder how the nations in Biblical times could be so gullible, how they could disobey God so blatantly when they could see His heavy hand on His enemies.

“But it won’t happen to us,” they said. And they were wrong.

We in the USA might think we are untouchable, too. I believe God is saying we would be very wrong to think that. Read His Word, and let that sink in.

June 19; Avoiding God

Psalms 49, 83, 91; I Kings 1:2-18, 3:1-3, 22:47-49; 2 Chronicles 20: 35-37

God, through the prophet Elijah, asked King Ahaziah, “Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?”

I think God is probably asking the same of us. Is it because there is no God in the USA for us to consult that we have to consult psychologists, scientists, historians, intellectuals, government officials, the media, and send out surveys to determine our direction and define our truth?

Ahaziah died because of his attempt to avoid God.

Just saying.