Tag Archives: Scripture

Surprised By Scripture (Genesis 16, 21)

Ishmael was fourteen years old when Isaac was born. Does that surprise you? How many of us remember that picture on our childhood Sunday School classroom walls of a weeping Hagar, with a baby in diapers under a bush behind her? The Bible does not paint that picture.

Abraham was 86 when Ishmael was born (16:16) He was 100 years old when Sarah gave birth to Isaac (21:5). Fourteen years separated the brothers. When Abraham banished Hagar and Ishmael, Ishmael was a teenager, according to God’s Word..

I am reminded today how important that God’s children read and re-read His Word, put down the commentaries, block out the voice of teachers (and bloggers), and let God speak. Sometimes when we read the Bible, instead of reading God’s Word, we end up reading Charles Stanley’s word, or Kay Arthur’s word, or the word of that dear Sunday School teacher, or the word of the writers of our church denomination’s theology. We read the words on the pages of the Bible, but we hear what others have said instead of hearing the voice of God.

I know God will not give any of us a new revelation, a “truth” not already in Scripture. But I think God would have us read what He wrote and let Him point out what He Himself would say to each of us every time we do.

Last month our Ladies’ Bible Study discovered that Mary Magdalene was NOT an immoral woman. Scripture does NOT identify her as the woman at the well or the woman caught in adultery. Does that surprise you? Read the Gospels and see if you can find Mary Magdalene’s name associated with sexual sin anywhere.

I will tell you it was hard for some of us to let go of the picture of Mary Magdalene as a reformed prostitute. We’d been taught that from childhood. Yet we had to rethink the voices from our past, and accept only what God said about Mary in His Word. It surprised all of us.

God has so much to say to you today. Read His Word and let Him tell you what that is. Don’t assume that the words you are skimming over mean what you’ve always heard they mean. Read with the intention of understanding, and let God reveal Himself to you in a personal, life changing way, according to the Bible.

You may be surprised by Scripture, too!

The Audacity! (Job 32-37)

It’s one thing to speak God’s Words. It’s another thing to speak for God. A young Elihu had the audacity to claim he spoke for God. He had all the answers, and was determined to “enlighten” the others with his superior wisdom. In the end, he was as much a fool as the rest of them.

There are way too many people who have the audacity to speak for God: TV preachers who claim to have a special message from God telling us we should be healthy and wealthy; The young woman involved in the Bethel Movement who claims she got a special word from God through a giant angel, and therefore can speak for God; Joseph Smith, who claimed he received special glasses from an angel so he could read magical scrolls, and therefore speak for God.

The audacity! Sadly, millions of people fall for the lies.

Yet the Apostle Paul said this:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unreachable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)

Paul knew we need to let God speak for Himself – because He alone is able. None of can come close to having the mind and knowledge of God. We are NOT His equals.

I always cringe when, at the casket of a person who has met their eternal fate, someone says, “It was God’s will,” or “God needed another angel,” or “Now you have someone looking down and watching over you.”

The audacity! How dare anyone speak for God, especially at such a vulnerable and critical time in someone’s life.

Do you really want to claim you know God’s will for anyone’s life and death? Where in God’s Word do you read about Him not having enough angels, or that a human ever looks down from heaven onto this sinful world? Or are you claiming God has visited you with an extra-Biblical message? Be careful.

Doesn’t the Bible tell us that in heaven, God wipes away our tears. (Revelation 21:4) I’ll tell you right now, if my mother was still watching over her children these past 24 years, God would have needed to dry bucketsful of tears as her heart repeatedly broke over the sins her five daughters have committed since she was here. Does that sound like heaven to you? It certainly is NOT the heaven Scripture describes.

Warren Wiersbe says this:

“No matter how smart you think you are, you never know enough to ‘play God’ in somebody’s life.” (With The Word; Thomas Nelson Press; 1991; p 300)

God has spoken for Himself in the pages of Scripture. Let’s not assume we can speak for Him beyond what He revealed in the Bible. Let’s determine to only speak God’s Words as recorded there.

God. doesn’t need any of us to speak for Him. In fact, we can’t.

 

 

 

 

Flabbergasted (Job 21-23)

I feel bad for Job on many levels. He was a good man. He thought he was doing everything right, and like most, seems to have thought that following the rules should lead to blessings, or at least to the absence of trouble.

Now, after losing everything, he has no answers to his questions. God is silent. His friends are miserable counselors. Job really has nowhere to turn.

Do we know how blessed we are in this day and age? When hardship and loss hit us, when we have questions, God need never be silent. We have His Word right at the tips of our fingers. We have His answers, His counsel, His assurance, His direction any time we need it.

What Job wouldn’t have given for a glimpse at the Bible on your bookshelf.

Yet so often we don’t even pick it up when we have questions, when life gets hard and we don’t know where to turn. We might go to Dr. Phil. We might read any number of self-help books. We might even Google our questions.

I think Job would be flabbergasted at our squandering of the amazing gift we have in the very words of God, written and easily accessed any time, day or night. All the man longed for was to hear from God.

Don’t miss hearing from God today. Pick up your Bible. Whether you are in a difficult season of life, blessed out of your mind, or somewhere in between, pick up your Bible. God need not be silent today.

December 11; The Danger In Gentle Breezes

Acts 25:23-28:10

I love how the experiences of people we read about in Scripture are life lessons for us today. Please don’t read the Bible merely for the information. My prayer is that you will allow the living Word of God speak to you and change you every time you open its precious pages. I’d like to share what speaks to me about Paul’s experience at sea.

Paul was a prisoner, heading to Rome for trial. The centurion in charge of Paul booked passage on a ship. There were guards on board, but so, evidently were some of Paul’s friends.

The ship landed at a place called Fair Havens after a difficult first leg of the journey. It was a dangerous time of year to be sailing, but Fair Havens was not a good spot to dock for the winter. Paul warned the centurion that there was danger ahead if they set sail.

But the centurion didn’t listen to Paul. The pilot of the ship, the one with experience sailing in all kinds of weather, the one who’d most likely traveled this way before, the assumed authority on the matter, assured the centurion they could make it to Phoenix, a great place to hold up during winter.

“Look at the calm sea, feel that gentle breeze,” he may have told the centurion. “Things are looking good for sailing if we leave now.” He may have even added, “Trust me.”

The Bible says they set sail. But it wasn’t long before the gentle breeze turned into a raging storm, and totally consumed the ship and its passengers. For days they fought a losing battle against the wind and waves.

Friends, I see a picture of sin here. Too often people, even Christians, listen to so-called authorities, and ignore what God says in His Word. Whether it’s parenting, worshiping, mental health, gender issues (the list goes on), there are people passing themselves off as authorities on any given subject, and going against what God has said in His Word. But because people, even Christians, listen to those so-called authorities, they jump into the boat. They put their faith in something or someone other than God. Their course is doomed.

People don’t normally jump into the boat while the storm is raging. They step in when the water is calm, and the breeze is gentle. They adopt one innocent sounding idea and make it their own, even if the Bible takes a different view on the subject. But there is danger in that gentle breeze.

Maybe they are confronted with temptation, but someone somewhere has said if it doesn’t hurt anyone else, it’s not that bad. One little white lie, one peek at porn, one cup of coffee with a married co-worker. It’s a gentle breeze. Besides, others wiser and more experienced than I tell me I deserve this. But there is danger in that gentle breeze.

I know you know that gentle breeze turns into a raging storm pretty quickly. And you find yourself in a sinking ship, battling something you never would have had to battle  if you’d  listened to the voice of God and stayed ashore.

Let Paul’s experience serve as a warning. There is only one authority. And He has written His wisdom down in Scripture.

Let Paul’s experience give you hope, too. Even if you are caught up in the raging sea of sin, all does not have to be lost. Just like God provided one way for the sailors and passengers to be saved from that storm, He has provided one way for each of us to survive, too. His name is Jesus.

The only way you will get out of this storm, the only way you will get out of this life alive, is through God’s provision of His Son. It’s only the cross that saves.

Don’t take my word for it. I am not an authority. But let God’s Word be the authority it is. There is no other Way, no other Truth, no other Life. And God wants you to know that for yourself.

There are those who would encourage you to feel that gentle breeze of temptation and sin. But, dear one, there is real danger in that gentle breeze.

November 13; On Every Page

Acts 5:17-7:53

Many people find the Old Testament hard to read. It’s repetitive, long lists of hard to pronounce names, accounts of things that happened so long ago, who even cares?

Well, Stephen for one. His 53 verse sermon is an overview of Old Testament Scripture. He knew the Old Testament pointed to Jesus as the Messiah, and he wanted everyone to know it, too.

I hope you’ll read what Stephen had to say about the Old Testament, about how God worked in and through a nation of people to prepare the world for His Son. Then I hope you’ll turn to the pages of the Old Testament for yourself and read first hand what God wants you to know.

Don’t read it merely as a history book, but as God’s love letter to you. Get to know Him by reading about Abraham, Joseph, Job, David, Esther, Daniel… Put yourself in their stories and hear God tell you how much you are loved, how He longs to fellowship with you, and how He works in your life to bring about good. Understand that He is the same God today as He was back then, and He wants you to know Him.

And He wants you to see Jesus. The entire Old Testament is a beacon pointing the way to the Savior. I believe you, like Stephen, will see Jesus on every page.

November 10: Ask Me

Matthew 28:11-20; Luke 24:13-53; John 20:19-22:25

I get that some people have trouble believing Jesus was raised from the dead. I mean, His disciples had trouble believing it, and Jesus was standing right in front of them with nail-pierced hands. The truth is, however, Jesus is alive.

There’s an old hymn we used to sing. “He lives! Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me along the narrow way. He lives salvation to impart. You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!”

I love that old hymn. But as I read this part of Scripture today I realize it’s not just knowing Jesus lives in my heart. I believe He lives because the Bible tells me He lives.

He’s not just a spirit in my heart (although that is pretty awesome in itself). He’s a living person with a real body who actually lives in heaven. He’s as real as you and me.

You ask me how I know that? Because I know Him personally; first through the pages of God’s Word, then through the precious blood of Jesus. He does walk with me, and He speaks to me from Scripture, He is my ever present help in time of need, and the One I want to share my day with.

Ask me about Jesus. I serve a risen Savior.

October 28; Perfectly Centered

Mark 11:27-12:17; Matthew 21:23-22:22; Luke 20:1-26

Jesus is the Cornerstone, the One on whom the Church is built. There is so much in just that one statement!

My sister was at a Bible study recently where the pastor, filling in for the regular teacher, shared that he and his teenage son had recently built a retaining wall together. Dad showed son step by step what needed to be done.

They put the first stone down and the dad showed the boy how to read the level. When the bubble in the level was perfectly centered, they were ready to move on to the next stone. After wiggling and tapping the second stone until the level was perfectly centered when resting on both the first and second stones, they were ready for stone #3. The bubble needed to be perfectly centered when on it and the already level second stone before they could lay a fourth stone, and so on and so on and so on.

Eventually the dad put the boy in charge of the level, and the wall went up. With each stone, the dad would ask, “Is it level?” When the boy could assure Dad it was, they went on to the next stone. They worked together for quite some time. But around the third layer, the dad realized something was wrong. He measured and found the wall was already several inches off.

How could that happen? The boy assured his dad the bubble was always in the center for every stone. “Show me,” Dad said.

Have you ever used a level? That bubble changes position when the difference on the surface in imperceptible. Is it in the center if it touches the left line, but doesn’t go over it? Is it in the center if it favors the right line a fraction of an inch? The boy found out that mostly centered is not centered.

Being perfectly centered is an exact spot, not an area. The father and son had to remove all the stones, until they got back to the cornerstone, in order to build their wall.

Are you with me? How many infinitesimal deviations has the Church made away from the Cornerstone over the last 2,000 years? What will it take to get back to the Cornerstone? Is there damage we need to correct?

I can think of so many examples. But one has come to the forefront. And that is what I believe to be more than an infinitesimal shift from our Cornerstone. The Church seems to have decided to make the Gospel a bit more palatable, a bit easier to swallow. You never hear a “hellfire and brimstone” sermon any more. Why? Because that kind of preaching puts people off.

There are churches that refuse to use the word “sin” because it offends. We want people to see Jesus as love, to make worship of Him emotional and entertaining. But is that what you see when you go back to the Cornerstone?

Listen to what Jesus said about the Cornerstone: He who falls on the stone will be broken, but the one on whom it falls will be crushed. (Matthew 21:44, Luke 20:18)

A person, face to face with the awfulness of his sin, should be broken! Repentance isn’t comfortable or pleasant. It’s like throwing yourself onto a boulder. It hurts. It breaks our old self into pieces.

But Jesus warns, waiting until that Stone falls results in a final crushing from which there is no recovery.

Jesus is the Cornerstone of the Church, but He is also the Cornerstone of my life. When I put the level of His Holy Word on my life – is it perfectly centered? Or am I off just a tiny little bit?

I want to be perfectly centered. I want to use God’s Word as my level, and line myself up with the Cornerstone according to Scripture. I’m not looking for a comfortable relationship with Jesus. I want to be broken when I deviate from His Holiness. I want conviction to tap me into position. Because if I allow that level just a bit of leeway, it’s not going to correct itself down the road.

Because almost centered is not perfectly centered.