Tag Archives: reading the Bible

Look Up

Psalm 57

David didn’t have Google. He couldn’t pull a MacArthur, Henry, or Moody Commentary off the shelf, turn on the TV to a Charles Stanley sermon, or listen to a podcast by a popular preacher. David didn’t look to Kay Arthur or Joel Osteen for answers.

In 1 Samuel 23 we see David go directly to the Lord for answers. And in Psalm 57 David shares what that entails.

  1. I look to you for protection
  2. I hide beneath the shadow of your wings
  3. I cry out to God most high
  4. I cry out to God who will fulfill his purpose in me
  5. I place my confidence in God
  6. I thank and praise God
  7. I praise God for his unfailing love and faithfulness

If you read 1 Samuel 23 you’ll see God did answer all of David’s questions.

Now, if you’ve been with me for awhile you know I don’t discount the wisdom of people shared in sermons, blogs, and commentaries. In fact, Matthew Henry said something that got me thinking along these lines this morning, and prompted me to take a closer look at Scripture.

In regard to Psalm 57:3 Henry points out “that all (David’s) expectation is from God… Those that make God their only refuge, and fly to Him by faith and prayer, may be sure of salvation, in His way and time.” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary in One Volume; Marshall, Morgan & Scott; 1960; p 636)

Did you catch the word “only” in that? Henry goes on to say that we can look for answers on earth, but if we do “refuge fails, no help appears.” Have you found that true in your life? I don’t care if it’s my blog rantings or the careful study of men like Matthew Henry. We can’t be your refuge! Only God can be that, and really, you shouldn’t want or need another!

Henry also says on page 636 that “those who lift up their hearts to things above may expect all good.” If we look at the Bible, in the accounts of people like Moses, Joel, David, Paul, James, etc. we will hear the exact same thing. God is the giver of good things, including insight into His Word and the rules and ability to follow them.

Oh that the Church – you and I – would put aside the books and blogs and TV shows and open our Bibles. Oh that we would not depend on the teaching of man, but would allow God to teach us by His own Words. Oh that we would stop fashioning our religion, our worship, our churches according to what makes people comfortable, and look to heaven above.

Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May your glory shine over all the earth.

Be Strong and Courageous

Joshua 1

One of my goals in writing this blog is to encourage people to fall in love with God’s Word. I hope you are all reading it every day and allowing God to speak His Words directly to you.

Today, I just want to share what God said to Joshua as he was to begin leading Israel after the death of Moses. In the times in which we live, it just might be exactly what God wants to say to us, too. May it challenge and bless you as it has me this morning.

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. This is my command – be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:8-9)

Are You Taking Notes?

Deuteronomy 17

In Good News Club yesterday, one of the third graders got out his notebook and began to take notes. One of the volunteers, not knowing what he was doing, asked him to put it away. He obeyed.

Later, he let me look at what he’d written. He’d copied the memory verse, our five rules, our “Word Up” which was: God Can Change Me. He jotted down things from the lesson like, “All have sinned,” “Not everyone goes to heaven,” “Jesus died for our sins,” and John 3:16. He did such a good job!

One of the commands God gave the kings of Israel was to copy His law in their own hand. Then they were to keep their copy and read it every day.

This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way…” (17:20)

Moses also said that in writing and reading the Law, the king would learn to fear God and learn to obey the instructions.

Here’s a thought: if you are one who says you have trouble understanding Scripture, or have trouble concentrating on what you’re reading, get a notebook and a pen and begin to copy a portion of Scripture in your own hand.

Maybe copy the book of John. Or some psalms. Or copy James or one of Paul’s letters. You might be surprised at how that simple act can help your understanding, and retention of God’s Word.

It was commanded of Old Testament kings. It might be useful for God’s servants in 2022.

But even if it doesn’t help – it certainly can’t hurt!

(John 6:47-59) Eat Your Fill

I bet you think I’m talking about Thanksgiving dinner, right? Wrong. In fact, my thoughts today might cause you to lose your appetite all together.

I gotta be honest. Jesus’ words revealing Himself as the Bread of Life is gross. If a person didn’t know how often Jesus used metaphors and spoke in parables, they would be right to be disgusted by Jesus’ words in this passage. Be warned, my friend, before you turn to John 6.

But Jesus is not talking about cannibalism. He is not inviting anyone to gnaw on his physical flesh or drink the blood running through His veins here. It is true, however, that people who feed on Him will live forever.

Confused much?

Think about what Jesus is saying while using His body as an example. Being a Jesus-follower isn’t merely a nod at His diety, or acknowledging He is the Savior. Christianity isn’t merely a set of rules to follow, although obedience is certainly proof of being a Christian.

Jesus’ example of eating His flesh and drinking His blood tells me there is something uniquely different about being His. It’s an all-in, total transformation from the inside out. Here’s the correlation: when we eat and drink physical food and water, it enters our bodies and becomes nutrients, calories, energy and makes us healthy and strong. Eating and drinking sustains life.

And that’s what Jesus want to do in us. When we “take Him in,” He becomes our energy, strength, and spiritual health that will help us in this life and take us into eternity. He will transform us from weak, sinful people, into strong and healthy eternal individuals. It’s not about these rundown flesh and blood bodies. It’s about our spirits and souls.

When we ask Jesus to come “into our hearts,” we are asking Him to fill us completely, to become in us what we need for living today and forever. Just like food does for our bodies, Jesus does for our souls.

And Jesus isn’t talking about an occasional taste here. A nibble of food now and then isn’t enough to sustain a physical body. Neither is an occasional connection with Jesus. Read these verses. Jesus is talking about gorging ourselves on Him!

Take a bite. Read His Word. Take another bite and put your trust in Him. Eat some more by spending time with Him, growing in your knowledge and love of Him, allowing Him to transform you, strengthen you, direct your steps so that you look more and more like the One who fills you to overflowing.

Eat your fill. Then eat some more. You can’t get too much Jesus in you!

(Luke 7) Who’s Doubt Is It Anyway?

I have appreciated considering the opinions of Bible scholars as I read through my Apologetics Study Bible this year. (Holman Bible Publishers; 2017) It often amazes me at the issues they address, indicating the lengths some people go to try and disprove the Bible.

Evidently there is a discussion about what kind of roof tiles that were on the house the paralytic’s friends dug through to get him to Jesus. Yeah, roofing.

And, is it the Sermon on the Mount, or the Sermon on a Flat Area on the Mountain? There is actually a debate about it. Why?

Skeptics use these kinds of things to suggest because the Gospel writers differ on certain details, the Bible must be full of errors, and therefore untrustworthy. I usually just shake my head and move on, but thankful that should someone use arguments like these, I’ll be prepared to point them back to what is really important.

But sometimes the comments in the Apologetics Study Bible are just plain wrong (in my opinion). One such opinion jumped out at me today, and I’d like us to consider 7:18-30. The apologist would have you take for granted that what you read here is the fact that John the Baptist is “expressing doubt” that Jesus is the Messiah because he sent two of his own disciples to ask Jesus point blank if they should be looking for someone else, or was Jesus the real deal?

First of all, all we know is WHAT John did. Scripture does not tell us WHY. So I read what the apologist said as his opinion. You can read my comments as mine – because that is all they are.

Based on John’s life, not just his imprisonment, here’s why I believe we are seeing something other than the prophet’s doubt:

  1. John recognized Jesus before either of them were even born. (Luke 1:44)
  2. John grew up spiritually strong. (1:80). He dedicated his whole life to preparing the way for the Messiah. (Luke 3:4-6)
  3. John had no hesitation in identifying Jesus as the One he’d been telling them about. (John 1:14-15, 29-35)
  4. From that moment on, John’s ministry was all about retreating into the shadows. “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
  5. Now Jesus’ ministry is in full swing. Some of John’s disciples began following Jesus. But obviously not all of them had made the switch. John was in prison, and maybe he was pretty sure he wasn’t going to get out of there alive. Maybe he wanted his remaining disciples to accept Jesus before he died. They needed to believe Jesus was the One to follow. So just maybe John sent them to Jesus because of their doubt, not his.
  6. Here is my final observation on the subject, and maybe the most telling. Jesus proceeds to talk to the crowd about John. Read it for yourself in Luke 7:24-28. Is there a hint that Jesus thought John was doubting? “I tell you, among those born of women no one is greater than John…”

My point is this: we’ve all made assumptions based on a verse or two. Let me challenge us to let Scripture speak for itself as we consider it all. Think about what you are reading, don’t just assume you know what it means by looking at the face value. Question, then dig deeper into God’s Word to find the answers. Use your ability to reason, and ask God to direct your thoughts.

Sometimes it’s hard to get the voice of our third grade Sunday School teacher, or our youth pastor, or some renowned evangelist or popular author out of our heads. My prayer is that, as we read Scripture we won’t be able to get the voice of God out of our heads, that another verse or passage or story from the Bible will come to mind to help us consider what God is saying to us today. Let’s not just read the Bible verse by verse, but lesson by lesson, truth by truth.

And may God grow us, bless us, and find us faithful to the Truth of His Word.

(I Samuel 25-27) Me Time, or Our Time

It’s hard to reconcile David, a man after God’s own heart, with the liar we read about here in I Samuel. David had placed himself in a difficult situation when he made himself at home with the enemy. It was easy to sin, surrounded by sin.

But my question is, why did he go there in the first place? God had proven Himself to be firmly on the side of David against Saul. David admitted God had delivered Saul into his hands – twice! David could easily have rid himself of the man who wanted him dead, yet David spared Saul both times, not wanting to sin against God or God’s anointed.

It sounds like, even after the obvious hand of God on his life, David was tired of running. And even though he probably knew God would continue to give him victory, David was weary of the battle, and didn’t see an end to his trouble.

He needed some “me time.” And he found it in the territory of the real enemy – sin. David learned you can’t surround yourself with sin and expect it not to rub off. And if you choose to live with the enemy, you are inviting some serious problems.

So, where are you living? With whom have you surrounded yourself? We are to go into the world and share the Gospel, but we are not to be comfortable there. What fellowship does the light have with darkness? The two cannot exist together.

What we read here in I Samuel is a very dark time in David’s life. I think the sad thing about it is, he is living with the enemy because of his lack of faith in God, who had only proven Himself faithful. Maybe God just wasn’t moving fast enough for David.

“Me time” is a popular concept today. And I’m not going to say whether or not I think it’s a good thing. I will, however, boldly say it is wrong if the “me time” moves you away from God, and closer to the enemy. You might be discouraged, weary, frustrated, disappointed, or burned out. And maybe God is nudging you to take a step back for a time. But, dear one, don’t use that as an excuse to dabble in the things of this world. Don’t allow yourself to feel at home with the enemy.

I’m not saying David was wrong to want to get away. The problem began with where he went. He didn’t go to God. Instead, he snuggled up with God’s enemy.

If you are needing some “me time,” spend it with God. Get to know Him better by reading your Bible and asking Him to reveal Himself. I would suggest you don’t go to self-help books or sit yourself in front of the TV, or turn to alcohol or partying or anything like that. I don’t believe there is any better “me time” than the time you share in a private encounter with God.

There is nothing sweeter than turning “Me Time” into “Our Time” with the Lord.

(Genesis) A Challenge For The New Year

So many people read the Bible in order to prove it wrong. They assume that because there is no evidence some people named in Scripture ever existed, that there are certain cities mentioned in the Bible which can’t be traced, that dates on a timeline don’t add up to their satisfaction, that means the Bible isn’t true. They rationalize Old Testament prophecy by saying someone must have added the prophecy after the fact because it’s impossible for things to occur hundreds of years after the prophecy exactly as the prophet foretold.

Yet archaeologists and historians continue to uncover tangible evidence that – guess what – the Bible was right all along.

Rather than reading Scripture, assuming it’s wrong, why not give it a chance? Why not read it assuming it’s true, that the author is God, that He inspired men to write down His Words so that you can know Him?

We are so quick to believe CNN, or FOX, or Facebook, professors, authors, politicians, and influencers. And most of us don’t even try to discern the truth from what we hear from them.

I want to challenge you to pull out a copy of God’s Word and read it this year. Ask God to reveal Himself to you in those pages, and assume He will. I’ve had people tell me they read the Bible and it meant nothing. Let’s just say, I doubt they sincerely asked God to give them understanding. Jeremiah 29:13 says:

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

That means you, dear one. Start today. Ask God to draw you to Himself. If you don’t want to start in the Old Testament, read the New. Seek God with all your heart…

Then buckle up. You are in for the ride of your life. And you will be forever changed.

(Genesis 1-2) A New Year, A New Study of God’s Word

For some time now I’ve had the conviction that having faith, being a follower of Jesus is not enough. Oh, it’s enough to get me into heaven. But it’s not enough to be obedient. I believe we all need to study to show ourselves ready to do God’s work, to give an answer for the hope we have in Jesus.

Now, I am not an intellectual. I am not a deep thinker. There is more to this life that I don’t understand than do. But I bought a Christian Standard Apologetics Study Bible, and I intend to dig in this year.

My prayer is that as I look at God’s Word in light of opposing views, and with the help of men who have studied much more than I, I will be able to defend what I know to be true. I don’t want to be satisfied with merely believing, I want to be able to express why I believe in a clear and factual manner. I think God wants that of me.

Did God create the universe with a word? Is the earth thousands or billions of years old? Was Adam a physical man, or a symbol for humankind? Is there Truth, morality, a standard of right and wrong? Is God real?

I don’t intend to write an apologetic study guide this year. I won’t be posting my thoughts every day. And I seriously doubt I’ll finish my study by this time next year. But I will touch base every now and then to let you know what I’m learning. Pray for me.

As with any commentary, I will listen to what these people have researched. But I will let God’s Word be the final authority. I want nothing more than to know God as He is, and to be able to share Him with people who don’t.

I pray you will be reading the Bible every day in 2021. I pray that you will ask God to challenge and encourage you, to reveal Himself to you more and more, and equip you to be the obedient servant He intends for you to be.

It’s a new year. Let’s make it a year to grow in grace and knowledge of our dear Savior. One day at a time.

Finger Pointing (Luke 11)

Jesus was invited to dine in the home one of the Pharisees. It appears the man had also invited some of his colleagues because Jesus began addressing them. Jesus told the Pharisees they were hypocrites, that they were all show, like unmarked graves people trample over without even knowing they were there. I don’t think Jesus would get the World’s Best Dinner Guest Award. However, He wasn’t there to win friends. He was there to win souls.

Now here’s the part that makes me laugh: Another guest identified only as a teacher of the law addresses Jesus. I would imagine Jesus’ remarks to the Pharisees had to make for a very uncomfortable situation for everyone present at that dinner. I picture the teacher of the law sitting near enough to Jesus to be able to lean over and whisper in Jesus’ ear. Maybe the teacher patted Jesus on the back and winked at Him like a friend sharing a private joke.

The teacher said, “You know, Jesus, and I’m sure you don’t mean to, but when you are talking like that to the Pharisees – not that they don’t deserve it (wink, wink) – you’re kind of hurting our feelings, too.”

Now this is what makes me laugh out loud: Jesus, after hearing this gentle hint, turns to the teachers of the law and instead of saying, “Oh, I’m sorry guys. I didn’t mean to offend,” He says “Woe to you!” Jesus then proceeds to reveal their sins, too.

I find it funny. And serious. That’s why I try not to read about “them” in Scripture. It’s tempting to read about the Jews, or the Pharisees, or the teachers of the law and overlook the fact God has something to say to me, too. When I read about the Pharisees being like cups that are clean on the outside and filthy on the inside, I want to check my own heart’s condition, my own witness. When Jesus accuses the teachers of the law of hindering people from knowing the truth, I have to ask myself if I am guilty, too.

I will read Scripture for what it is: profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in right living so that I will be fully equipped to be the woman God wants me to be to share Him with a world that needs Him.

You’ve heard it said that when you point to someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you. I think we need to pay attention to the fingers pointing to us every time we spend time in God’s Word.

Read All About It (I Samuel 27)

Do you know what I love about reading the Bible? God didn’t sugar-coat anything when He whispered into the ears of the men who penned His Words. We don’t just read about the victories and the blessings. We also read about the epic failures and the devastating consequences for sin. God never paints His children as perfect. I like that.

Take David for instance. Here we read about the future king who will be described as a man after God’s own heart, murdering whole towns of people and lying about it. He’s living with the enemy and doing what he needed to do to survive there.

I Samuel 27:1 holds the key to this very dark time in David’s life:

But David thought to himself… the best thing I can do is…

There is no mention that David was obeying God. In fact, there’s no mention that David consulted God at all during this time with the Philistines.

Now some people will say it was God’s will, that it was all part of God’s plan for David. And to be honest, I can get a little angry when people brush sin off like that. I wonder if people who believe that really know God at all. Our holy God does not cause His children to sin. There is no evil in Him. But there is evil in each of us, and God is very honest to tell us that that is something we need to address, because the consequences are serious.

We read that David went on his own and sinned. He thought to himself. He came up with that plan on his own. And we will find there will be consequences he’ll face for his sins.

But David will also be forgiven. And that’s why I love reading the good, the bad, the ugly, and the grace we find when we open God’s Word. God not only tells us what happens when we choose sin, He tells us how we can be forgiven. He not only describes a heart hardened by disobedience, He describes a heart cleansed by the blood of His Son.

If you want to read the Bible in order to feel good about yourself, don’t bother. This book will break your heart. It will sit heavy on your shoulders as your sins are revealed. It will tell you you are a sinner, then it will tell you that again and again.

No, this book won’t make you feel good about yourself. But it will make you feel good about your Savior. While you were a sinner, not a cleaned up version of yourself, while you were still a sinner Jesus died for you. You, my friend, don’t deserve what Jesus did for you there. But He did it anyway.

Because He loves you that much. You can read all about it in the pages of the Bible.