Tag Archives: the Bible

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?

August 9; The Breath of God

Jeremiah 23:9-40, 27:1-28:17

Do you know what the Bible says about itself? “I am God-breathed.” Paul, in his second letter to Timothy tells us, “All Scripture is God-breathed” (3:16) It’s in there!

In the passages I read today, God is telling Jeremiah that when he hears prophets prophesying, Jeremiah needs to ask them, “What has the Lord spoken?” and “What is the Lord’s answer to you?” I think it’s important for us to know the answers to those questions, too.

I don’t care who is speaking – what does the Bible say? The Bible is God’s Word to us. It is the final – the only authority by which we measure every thought and word and action.

The only revelation of God to man is written in the pages of the Bible. He has not – and will not throw out an addendum or recant what He breathed into life thousands of years ago. Everything He wants us to know is contained in the pages of Scripture. Period.

This Bible we hold in our hands is God’s Word. It doesn’t merely contain God’s Word. It is the very breath of our Creator.

I hope you read it today. I hope you inhale the Breath of God.

 

 

August 3; A Ten Day Challenge

Jeremiah 46:1-28; Daniel 1:3-21, 2:1-49; 2 Kings 24:7

I would imagine most of you know the account of the Jewish men exiled to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among the young, strong, handsome men hand-picked to serve in the king’s palace. We first meet these four in training camp.

As part of the grooming process, the captives were given “royal food and wine.” I’m not sure of the exact menu items, but it’s likely the food was rich and perhaps had been sacrificed to the Babylonian pretend gods. Our boys politely declined the royal food, and asked for veggies and water instead.

When their guard told them to forget it, the Jewish men made a deal. “Give us 10 days. Just 10 days, and if we look like we’re starving after 10 days, we’ll eat the food you give us.” The guard agreed.

And after 10 days of just the basics, “they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.” (Daniel 1:15)

So as I was reading this this morning, God seemed to be throwing down a challenge. What if we put away our commentaries and theology books, study guides and sermon notes. What if we turned off the TV preachers and, as much as I’d miss you, stop reading blogs, and for 10 days determined to read just the Bible. What if we read it, re-read it, studied it, prayed over it, memorized it. What if we would let the Bible speak for itself for 10 days.

The captive Jewish boys thrived after getting back to the basics. I wonder if we wouldn’t, too.

You might argue that it’s hard to understand Scripture without the help of others who have studied it before us. If that’s what you are thinking, make this a part of your challenge: Grab ahold of it and don’t let go until God blesses you, like Jacob did the night he wrestled God. Pray that God would speak to you through His Word, reveal a bit more of Himself through the Words He breathed. And don’t stop reading until He does. Do you think that if you read God’s Word, and ask Him to speak to you, to reveal Himself to you, He won’t?

This thought just came to mind. What if we would all get out a notebook and record at least one thing God reveals to us as we study His Word each day. Maybe copy a verse that spoke to us. We would end up with 10 personal messages from God. Does that thought thrill your heart?

When Daniel heard that his life and the lives of his friends were threatened, they got together and prayed. God heard their prayers and revealed the mystery. If you take this challenge, you might ask a friend to pray for you, too. Please know I’ll be praying for you.

Are you in? I hope so. Maybe I’ll see you again Tuesday August 13, and maybe you’ll be so excited about reading the Bible you won’t have time to read my posts. That would be awesome!

May God bless you as you open His Word every day. May He teach you, open your eyes, convict you, encourage you, and give you the understanding He has for you. He wrote this Book for you. Let it be to you what He has wanted all along.

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.

July 5; The Answer

2 Chronicles 29:1-31:1; Psalms 66-67

I believe that, as the Jews were worshiping pretend gods, deep inside they knew something was not quite right. Something was missing. Then, when Hezekiah cleaned house, restored the temple, reinstated the Passover and worship of God, the Jews could hardly contain their joy.

They came from all around, traveled many difficult miles to get to Jerusalem, to go to where God was.

Have you ever been really, really thirsty? Your tongue probably felt like it was made of cotton balls, you might have begun to see stars. When you took your first sip of water – what was it like? Could you feel the moisture slide down your throat? Were you aware of every drop as it worked its way through your body, refreshing and energizing you down to  your fingers and toes? With each swallow you began to return to your former state of health.

I think that was kind of what the Jews must have experienced as they returned to God.

I look at our present day world full of restless people. I see them worshiping all kinds of pretend gods: science, self, religion, money, relationship, excitement, whatever. And I know the reason they are restless is because deep down they know they are missing something. They are dying of thirst.

Using my analogy, I see these restless people trying to satisfy their thirst by eating potato chips, or drinking toilet water, or convincing themselves they aren’t really dying of thirst.

They make new idols, thinking that’s the answer. Or they turn their attention within themselves believing they’ll find what they need. They might tell themselves they’ve found what they were missing, but deep down inside they keep looking. The restlessness continues.

Friend, I know the answer to the world’s problem. I know it’s exactly the same answer we read about in the lives of the Jews under Hezekiah. It’s what Jesus called, “Living Water.” It’s Jesus Himself.

You might disagree. But that doesn’t change what is true. You might choose to continue to try to find fulfillment making pretend idols, and trying to quench your thirst with pebbles. But I am here to tell you, the answers you are looking for are written to you in love from God Himself. It’s in the pages of the Bible.

I know that if you read it, if you accept who God says He is, and allow Jesus to change you, you will find the answers you were looking for all along.

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that (His) ways may be known on earth, (His) salvation among all the nations. (Psalm 67:1)

 

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.