Tag Archives: the Bible

(Proverbs 28-31) Read It For The Change

These proverbs – any proverb, really – aren’t meant to be taken materially as much as figuratively and, more importantly, spiritually. You don’t read verses like 29:15, then go out and buy a metal rod or a wood dowel to beat your child with. 28:27 isn’t promising financial wealth for people who give to charity.

If a proverb speaks of a man, and another speaks of a woman, neither verse is gender specific. The lesson can and should be applied to all of us. But… if you read a proverb like 29:3, and are offended at the example of a man, a father, and a female prostitute because of the wording of the proverb, Satan has successfully thrown a barrier between you and the truth God wants you too see.

If you read Proverbs 31:10-21, and limit yourself to thinking these verses are intended to teach young women how to be good wives, Satan has placed a barrier between you and the truth God wants you to learn as you consider your own walk with Him.

You, men. You, women. You, Church.

Because those verses are not just about being a good wife, although that is absolutely what it is teaching. It is also a beautiful picture of what I as a follower of Jesus should look like to my neighbors. It’s a beautiful picture of what the Bride of Christ, the Church – your church fellowship – needs to look like to the world.

A while back I was in a class where the teacher was using these verses, speaking quite literally about how wives need to treat their husbands. It was a good and challenging lesson to the married women there. But the teacher had no application for those of us who were unmarried.

At the end of the lesson, she asked for comments or questions. I complimented her on her lesson, then shared that I had heard a sermon years ago on these same verses in regard to the Church as the Bride of Christ. I said it had challenged me in my own walk with the Lord, and my role in my church fellowship.

She was silent. Then she said, “We need to be careful not to make Scripture say what it doesn’t say.”

Now, I agree with that 100%. But I also think we need to be careful not to ignore the lessons the Scripture teaches by limiting ourselves to a material interpretation only.

I share that to challenge you to read God’s Word and how it applies to you. I don’t want you to read verses like these in Proverbs and think God doesn’t have something He wants you to consider for yourself. All Scripture is God breathed and profitable to instruct, correct, and equip you for serving Him.

There is something in every verse that can encourage or convict you, cause you to rejoice or mourn. Don’t just read it for the knowledge. Read it for the change God wants to see in you.

Let Him speak to you, discipline you, equip you to be the servant you are. If you read it, and it doesn’t speak directly to your heart, read it again. That just means you weren’t paying attention the first time, because there IS a lesson for you in the pages of God’s Word every time you read it.

Read it. Read it again. Let it change you.

(Proverbs 10-11) Interpreting Proverbs

Proverbs can be confusing if we try to interpret them though a material lens. A proverb might say a good person lives long and an evil person dies young (10:27) when experience tells us that is not always so. A proverb may suggest good people are always rewarded and evil people are always punished (10:16) but that’s not necessarily true, either…

IF we are only considering our physical life on this earth.

The greater truth of proverbs is 100% true 100% of the time. For instance, the righteous ARE rewarded, maybe not with checks in the mail, but with peace and joy and forgiveness and fellowship with God, AND they will never die!

Those who reject God live in bondage to the sin they refuse to confess, and life on this earth will end in an eternal death – where they will be conscious of their excruciating punishment forever, according to Scripture.

Yes, many of the proverbs apply to the physical, day to day living, and tell us how we should treat each other, what our character ought to be. Most of the time we read those and get the message pretty easily. But even the proverbs that seem to contradict what the rest of Scripture teaches, or what our experiences have taught us, can and do apply to our spirit. They give us a bigger picture of the result of how we live in this life, our choices to be honest or dishonest, kind or unkind, generous or stingy, good or bad.

John MacArthur said somethings that helps me look at the proverbs with greater understanding:

“Given the context that surrounds Proverbs – the rest of God’s Word – a student’s failure to grasp a proverb ought not to lead to the conclusion that there’s something wrong with the proverb. A better conclusion would be that the student doesn’t know enough yet or hasn’t paid enough attention. A wise person puts an elusive proverb on hold for further understanding rather than rejecting it as useless. God’s further lessons in that person’s life may well cast a new light on parts of the Bible that have been difficult to interpret.” (The MacArthur Bible Handbook; Thomas Nelson, Inc; Nashville; 2003; p 166)

So let me encourage you to not give up on the proverbs just because you run across some that seem confusing, or even contradictory. Slow down. Look up and consider the bigger picture, the rest of God’s Word. And when necessary, move on. God will give you the interpretation and application at exactly the right time for you.

(Psalm 119:1-40) Digging for Treasure

Our Sunday School lesson yesterday was from Job 28 where Job talks about mining for treasure, and how God’s wisdom is so much more valuable than any gem or mineral men work so hard to get. Our challenge was to “mine” the treasures in God’s Word with the same intentional effort as a miner of gold.

Then today, as I continue with reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in 2021, I found myself in Psalm 119. Yes, the psalm that talks about God’s Word in every verse, the psalm that celebrates the treasures in Scripture.

I love God!

I had intended to read through the entire chapter, all 176 verses. But there is so much treasure here to gather, I couldn’t just skip over the surface. I had to dig. I had to pull out everything I could, one gem at a time.

But here’s the thing: If I read God’s Word, and if I do it slowly, thinking about what I read, if I stop and look at what others have said about these verses, and go back and read the verses again, if I gain all the knowledge about what Scripture says, but don’t write in on my heart and allow it to change me, I miss out on the chance to glorify God and be blessed by Him. If I don’t actually use what treasures I’ve mined, why bother?

It would be like digging for diamonds, and just putting the lump of rock on a shelf and forgetting it. What makes the diamond valuable is the cutting and polishing and use of it.

Same thing with God’s Word. The psalmist knows the value of actually loving God’s law AND obeying it; things like happiness, a life lived without fear of being “found out” with some hidden sin, a life lived unashamed. Things like knowing God hears – really hears – when I pray. The fact that He gives me understanding of His Word when I ask Him. And the amazing blessing of life lived through God’s own righteousness.

James 1:22-25 tells us there is blessing not just from hearing God’s Word, but in obeying it.

As Christians we are God’s servants. Not the forced and oppressed kind of slaves that might come to mind. But people who are privileged to serve, people who love to please our loving Father kind-of-servants. And our loving Father has written down exactly how we can please Him, gave us our “honey-do” lists, our instruction book and lesson plan, step by step instructions that spell it all out. He makes His will known through the pages of Scripture so we CAN serve Him.

The beauty of Scripture is the fact that the more time we spend reading and taking it in, the better we get to know God. The more we know God, the more we want to know Him. The more we know Him, the more we love Him. The more we love Him the more we want to please Him, to spend time with Him reading what He wrote, which helps us to know Him better, love Him more, serve Him in a way that pleases Him, and so on and so on and so on.

It’s a glorious cycle! And in this cycle of knowing God, loving His Word, and obeying Him there is such joy!

Matthew Henry said that the joy that comes from knowing God like that should be the “wheels” to our obedience. It comes back to the Bible. Because if we want to obey God, we find out how to obey Him in His Word.

And if we read His Word, we want to obey Him.

Is your head spinning? It’s cool to think of this cycle like a spiral, or the ripples in the water when you toss a pebble into it. The rings get bigger and bigger as it reaches further and further out. God blesses us who love His word, and as we love His Word more, the blessing grow, reach out, multiply.

Now let me say I’m glad you are reading this post. I am thankful for people like Henry, Wiersbe, MacArthur and others who have studied God’s Word and shared their insight through hundreds of books and commentaries.

But A.W Tozer warns us about the difference between being “man taught” and “God taught.” I think that’s something we need to take seriously. The psalmist is celebrating the beauty of God’s Word, and the blessing of reading it, meditating on it, loving it, desiring it, longing for it, writing it on our hearts. Nothing – NOTHING – compares to spending time in the pages of the Bible for yourself and allowing God to open your minds and hearts to what He wants to say to you.

I pray that you will dig for treasure today as you open your Bible and begin to read. The treasure you will find is priceless.

(Psalm 1) Blessed To Bless

I’ve never really studied the psalms. I’ve read them often and have been blessed and challenged by certain phrases that stand out to me as I quickly read over them. But I’ve never dug deeper into them as I have other places in God’s Word. I think it’s time.

So using the opinions written by Bible scholars like those who contribute to my Apologetics Study Bible, Warren Wiersbe’s “Be Worshipful,” Matthew Henry, Josh Hunt, and others, I’m going to take one psalm at a time, word by word, and prayerfully consider this portion of Scripture like I’ve never done before. This could take a while.

I memorized Psalm 1 in the KJV when I was a youth. It’s taken decades to really look at what God would have me know through these familiar verses. In fact, as I’ve looked at this psalm for the past 2 1/2 hours, I am challenged to do what it says!

The first word in this psalm is “blessed,” or “happy,” and isn’t that something we all aspire to? I don’t know that anyone would say they just want to be miserable and to go through hard times. So, here is the key to happiness according to God’s Word:

First what not to do. Don’t go the way of the world. Don’t go along with the crowd. Don’t take what your professors or politicians or rockstars or pro-athletes or peers or news anchors say as gospel. The loudest voices aren’t always the right voices, aren’t always the truthful voices.

Some of those voices mock Christianity, reject Truth, deny God. Do you want to be happy and blessed? Don’t walk with them. God would have us know that the blessed, the happiest people are those who don’t listen to the ungodly, are those who don’t align themselves with unbelievers.

Here’s the other aspect of the key to happiness: Love God’s Word. Yes, love the Bible. Read it, but don’t stop there. Pray about it. Think about it day and night. Let it become a part of you.

Commentaries and study guides help. I’m going to be looking at several while I study the psalms in the next few weeks (or months at the rate I’m going). But there isn’t a Bible teacher or Bible scholar who can replace the treasure that is God’s own Words.

In fact, if you need counsel, direction, advice for life, there is no better place to go than to the Giver of life! Happy, blessed, are those who make Scripture a priority.

The psalmist compares people who are grounded in God’s Word to a healthy tree, planted by water, and bearing fruit. It is a picture which demonstrates that our nourishment comes from spending time in God’s Word. Reading the Bible and allowing it to feed us produces fruit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Now here is something Warren Wiersbe said, “We must remember that the tree doesn’t eat the fruit; others eat it.” (Be Worshipful; by Warren Wiersbe; David C Cook publisher; 2009; p 22))

When we delight in God’s Word, we bear fruit that will bless others. That in itself is WHY we are blessed. If we want to be blessed so we feel blessed, if the blessing stays with us and becomes more important than the Giver of the blessing, that is idolatry. And idolatry is sin. (from page 21 of “Be Worshipful)

The prosperity the psalmist speaks of is the number of eternal souls saved by the fruit we bear.

The psalmist gives a warning to those he calls, “wicked,” those who follow the way of sinners and sit with the ungodly. Their judgment is sure. In the end, they will be separated from the righteous (not the sinless because none of us are without sin. But righteousness comes to those who delight in God’s Word and bear fruit for the kingdom as a result of an encounter with Jesus).

That separation is ruin. Loss. Pain. The antithesis of anything right. And it will never end.

I am challenged today. I do love spending time in God’s Word. I want to love it more. I am blessed by the Spirit’s gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. But I don’t want to just sit here and get fat on my blessings. I want to bless others with the blessings I’ve received.

Well, this was a long post. If you are still with me, thanks! Not sure I would have done the same if I were you. I pray that you and I will delight in God’s Word every day, think about it throughout the day, let it nourish us and strengthen us so that we bear fruit today, and that someone will be drawn to our precious Savior because we are doing what Psalm 1 instructs us to do.

To we who are blessed, let’s be a blessing.

(Job 22-24) Find Him

Job makes me sad. He is in such pain and hopelessness, and his friends just aren’t helping him. He wants to trust God, but it’s hard. He wants to understand, but he can’t. His words break my heart:

If only I knew how to find him. (23:3a)

Where is God in our times of trouble? Why does He seem the furtherest when we hurt the most? Where can we go, what can we do to find Him?

The answer is too simple for some. Go to His Word. Get out your Bible and begin to read. But let me warn you, you may not like what is written there.

What is hard for some to accept is the truth that the only way to find God is to go through His Son Jesus. Scripture will tell you He is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. (John 14:6)

You may look for God in nature, in religions, gurus and mystics, but you will only find forgeries. You may look for Him in commentaries, and self-help books, but you will just find opinions.

Why not look to the source? If I am baking a cake I look at a cake recipe and not a recipe for fried fish. If I am looking to build a cabinet I look at the blueprint of a cabinet and not a jet airplane. If I’m looking for the definition of “approbation” or “congruity” I don’t go to Fortnite. I go to a dictionary.

Do you, like Job, wish you knew where to find God? He’s not hiding. He’s right there in the pages of the Book He inspired men to write to you.

Read it for yourself. Ask Him to give you understanding, and to reveal Himself to you. You can find Him. But you have to look in the right place.

(Judges 11-13) No Reason To Complain

I was surprised to find out that there are some who read about Samson’s parents and say the fact that his mother is not named is proof that the Bible looks at women as less than men. Really? I know we are a society that look for chances to be offended but… really?

If you read the Bible you will in fact, see that God challenges the norms of that day and honors women. Take Samson’s mom. Who did God appear to – twice? It wasn’t her husband. Does the fact that we don’t know her name devalue the honor she received when the Lord visited her, spoke with her face to face?

People who criticize Scripture and, in turn Christianity, for being male-dominant are wrong. There is no difference between male in female in God’s kingdom. We are equally accountable to Him, loved by Him, and saved by the same blood.

Those who know Scripture know about Deborah, Jael, Dorcus, Mary, Miriam, the daughters of Zelophehad, and others who led armies, owned land, were prophetesses, and were honored by God as men’s equals. Jesus Himself treated women with respect and, in fact, revealed Himself as the Messiah first to a woman.

So ladies, if you are going to get your feelings hurt because you don’t know the name of Samson’s mom, you have much deeper problems you need to consider. We need to get over ourselves and quit looking for reasons to complain.

(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.

All We Need To Know (Psalm 119)

Why did God inspire men to write down His words, to spell out His plan for the human race, we who are created in His image? To what degree does it pertain to life in 2020?

The reality is, God is not playing games here. In His sovereignty and because of His great love, He has told us everything we need to know about life, about death, and about Himself. We don’t have to guess about anything He considers important. It’s all here right in the pages of the Bible.

Is it relevant for today? Let me ask you this: Do people experience any emotions today that weren’t experienced by people four thousand years ago? Do people have complicated relationships any differently than they did when Scripture was written? Were there temptations to sin back then, to lie, to cheat on their wives, to take what wasn’t their’s, to put their interests ahead of others and God? Was there illness and war and poverty and unfairness and prejudice? Let me assure you there was all of that. And what God inspired men to write in what we know as the Bible is as up-to-date today as it was back then.

Verse 133 says this:

Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.

As we read God’s Word we become aware of sin and the devastating and eternal consequences for sin – for our sin. But God also demonstrates in His Word that He has done what it takes to break the chains of sin so that sin no longer has to control us.

As we read God’s Word each day, let’s pray with the psalmist:

May my cry come before you, O Lord; give me understanding according to your word. (vs 169)

Give me understanding. But, dear one, we need to be reading God’s Word if we want Him to help us understand it. May this be the prayer of our hearts:

May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees. May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous. May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight. Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me. I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commandments. (verses 171-176)

Right in Our Hands (Psalm 119)

The theme of the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119, is God’s Word. In every one of the 176 verses you will find words such as laws, precepts, promises, ways, decrees, and commands as the psalmist celebrates God’s love letter to His people.

Every time I read this psalm God gives me a gut-check about my attitude toward His Word. Do I let it sit on my nightstand unopened, or do I “delight in (His) commandments because I love them?” Do I read a few verses every day, then promptly forget what I’ve read? Or do I “hasten and not delay to obey (God’s) commands?”

I would challenge you to read this psalm slowly and thoughtfully over the period of a few days. Make the “I” of it personal, and ask yourself if what you are reading is really the attitude of your heart.

I am going to do that. Then with the psalmist, I pray I will be able to say:

Oh, that my ways (Connie’s ways) were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I (Connie) would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. (verses 5-6)

I (Connie) seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. (verse 10)

And…

I (Connie) run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. (verse 32)

There is so much in this psalm. I pray we all will take time to let it speak to our hearts about the precious gift of God’s own words, right here in our hands.

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.