Tag Archives: the Bible

Just Asking

Nehemiah 7

The reading of God’s Word was taken so seriously in Nehemiah’s day. When Ezra stood up and began to read, the people stood and listened closely… from early morning to noon! (verse 3)

Everyone listened, including children who were old enough to understand.

Hours.

Standing.

Listening closely.

Ezra didn’t preach. He read God’s Word.

Does your church stand for the reading of God’s Word (the whole 90 seconds it takes to read the morning passage)?

Do you read for hours, comfortably sitting in your home with a cup of coffee, listening closely to God’s Word?

Just asking.

Mixed Messages

Ezra 9-10

I wonder if the Church isn’t guilty of “marrying foreign wives” like the people of Israel including priests and Levites were guilty during the time of Ezra.

So the holy race has become polluted by these mixed messages. Worse yet, the leaders and officials have led the way in this outrage. (9:2b)

No one wants to talk about the Church as the holy race. We’d rather talk about how we can be attractive to foreigners, to those who don’t know the Savior. Our goal, preached from so many pulpits, is to actually bring the foreigners into the Church!

That’s like marrying a non-believer, expecting them to change. Folks, you know that doesn’t work. It certainly isn’t working in the modern Church.

I watched a movie on Pure Flix last night, “Play the Flute.” We geezers will recognize Loretta Swift from “Mash,” Fred Grandy from Love Boat (your remember Gopher, right?), and Clint Howard, Opie’s real life brother. It’s a good movie about a young youth pastor, burdened for the teens in his church who not only do not read the Bible, they don’t even see a need to read it.

The youth pastor struggles with whether or not to make his youth group about programs and events and fun so numbers grow. He hears from a friend whose own youth group has grown because of all the things they are doing. He reads articles and commentaries from church leaders who promote the idea that if youth group is an event, kids will come. But he can’t shake the conviction that the Bible needs to be the focus of his youth group.

So he gets up in front of the teens and reads what Jesus says in Matthew 11:

To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a funeral song, and you did not mourn.”

He likens God’s Word to the flute, himself as the musician, and to the teens as those who refused to dance, who just sit there and don’t accept what they hear. The pastor tells the kids he’ll continue to play the flute. What they do with what they hear is up to them.

I hope you’ll watch the movie. I think you’ll like it. It certainly has me thinking today in light of what I read in Ezra.

Church, it might be time for us to divorce ourselves from foreign wives, and return the Church to that which God intended – a holy people. It might be time for us to simply play the flute and quit dancing to get attention. Why do we think the sound of God’s Word is incapable of changing hearts today? What if we got back to having the preaching and teaching of Scripture plus nothing be our focus?

I know some of you will say times have changed, kids are bored with church, we are a technology focused society, that bells and whistles are needed to draw people in. And some of you say we want anyone to come in no matter what they believe.

But is that what God says He wants of His Church? Times have changed, but He hasn’t. His demand for a holy people still rings true today. And foreign wives, mixed messages, are defiling His Church.

That’s not just my opinion. It’s what God’s Word says, whether we like it or not. I’m praying for my church, and for your’s. I’m praying for Christians everywhere to get back to God’s Word and let Him work in the hearts of people without our interference. I’m praying for the holy people of God to pick up our flutes and play them with all our hearts.

And let God do the rest. He’s better at it than we are anyway.

God’s Word Written To You

Jeremiah 42

The people of Israel asked God what they should do, and they promised to do whatever God said. So God gave them His message – and they rejected it.

He had told them to “stay where you are and I will save you. Don’t go to Egypt because there is death waiting for you there. No matter how scary it is right now, trust Me. Stay put.”

When they received God’s Words, they called it lies. Their plan made more sense to them. So they went to Egypt. And they died.

It’s no different today. So many people who grew up going to Bible believing, rock solid churches, hearing, memorizing, and believing God’s Word begin to listen to other voices, then come to the conclusion that God’s Word is a lie. Their ideas make more sense to them, and the Holy Bible is viewed as just another religious document among many.

Others hear God’s Word for the first time, and because it goes against every other doctrine out there, they come to the conclusion that it’s a lie. Or that if it works for you that’s great, but it doesn’t have to work for me.

Folks, God’s Word we know as the Bible are the words of the Creator God, Holy, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, eternal, King of the universe, and the only one whose words are 100% true. To hear them, then reject them isn’t ok.

That’s not merely my opinion. It’s not even a matter of what I believe to be true. It’s a fact. It’s true according to the God who created you. For you to reject it, is foolishness at best, and an eternal death sentence at worst – according to God’s Word.

Read the Bible and let God speak to you about His heart. Hear Him tell you what He requires and know He’s serious about the consequences of disobedience. Let Him tell you what He’s done to save you, and hear His invitation to come to Him. Shut out all the other voices that would have you question God’s Word. And open your heart, your mind, and your ears to His voice.

God inspired men thousands of years ago to write you a love letter, an instruction manual, a message from his heart to yours. Read it for yourself. Don’t reject it. It’s the only truth that will matter in the end, because it’s the only truth.

Can It Get Any Worse?

2 Kings 22-23; 2 Chronicles 34

I opened You Tube today and saw the title of a video that got my attention. I’ve never listened to this man before, but he titled his talk: This Pastor Is Worse Than You Thought – Andy Stanley, Jordon Peterson, Voddie Baucham – My Analysis. (The Gospel of Christ; John Henry).

He played a portion of a workshop given by Pastor Stanley, and even though I wasn’t at that workshop or watched the entirety of it, what I did hear left me speechless. Stanley said he no longer refers to the Bible when he teaches. He doesn’t say “The Bible says…,” or “God’s Word says….” In fact, he says Christianity shouldn’t rise and fall on the inerrancy or accuracy of 66 ancient documents we call books of the Bible. It rises and falls on the identity of a single individual… Jesus of Nazareth.

He said that. And he posted the same on Twitter.

Now, to be fair, Stanley said his position on referring to the Bible isn’t a change in theology. It is merely a change in how he talks about theology. It seems he believes he can talk about what is in the Bible without using it as the authority.

In a podcast, Stanley said that in the beginning of Christianity, no preacher said, “The Bible says…, the Bible says…” He pointed out that the ancient Christians didn’t have a Bible, many couldn’t even read, and surmised that what drove the faith was an event, not Scripture.

“We have to shift the focus from the Bible to the resurrection…”

I want to ask him how can we know about the resurrection without the Bible?

Anyway, after listening to this You Tube video, I opened my Bible (yes, I still do that every day). My chronological Bible had me in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles where I read how reading God’s Word changed everything for King Josiah and the nation of Judah. They didn’t realize the seriousness of their actions until they READ what God had to say about them. That lead to repentance and revival in the land.

Ok. You might argue that is all from an ancient ANCIENT document. It’s Old Testament, and we live after the cross. So let’s look at Jesus.

Jesus often used Scripture (the Bible in Jesus’ day). Read Matthew 27, 23; John 13, 15. When he walked with the men going to Emmaus after the resurrection, He talked to them, not merely about the resurrection, but about what Scripture said.

Paul, after the cross, refers to Scripture repeatedly: 1 Corinthians 3, 18, 26, 30; Romans 10,15, and on and on and on.

To say we shouldn’t base Christianity on Scripture negates 2 Timothy 3:16-17. And if we want to base Christianity simply on Jesus’ miraculous resurrection from the dead, we need only read John 1 which clearly states that same Jesus IS the Word!

I hope you’ll investigate this for yourself. If I’ve misrepresented Andy Stanley, please listen to the video I referenced, and go to Stanley’s Twitter account (although I believe he has taken down some of what was said earlier). But let me know if I am in error. I don’t want to put words into Stanley’s mouth.

But let me ask you: what is the authority on which you base your faith? Personally, I am standing on the written Word of God, and I will continue to proclaim the Bible as that authority.

I’ll thank God for the privilege of proclaiming His Word, all 66 books, as His inspired Word live and effective today. And I’ll continue to urge you to read it every day.

Another Jesus

The King of Assyria sent his thugs to threaten the children of Israel, to bully them into surrendering. They pointed out that Assyria had successfully defeated the nations around them, that none of their gods we’re able to saved them from the mighty Assyrian army, and that the writing was on the wall. Israel was next.

Surrender or die.

Then these representatives of the Assyrian king said something that has me thinking today:

What’s more, do you think we have invaded your land without the Lord’s direction? The Lord Himself told us, “Attack this land and destroy it.”

One of two things could be true about that. Either God is using Assyria to punish Israel for their sin, and indeed instructed the enemy to be His judgment on the Jews, or the men representing the Assyrian king were lying.

Today, Satan is to us what the Assyrian King was to Israel in this portion of Scripture. He is the one threatening to destroy God’s people, and bullying us into submission. And he is using the Name of God to do it.

Bethel names the name of God. Benny Hinn names the name of God. Joel Osteen calls himself a Christian minister. I could go on. And so could you.

The question is, are we going to stand with God according to His inspired written Word, or are we going to be bullied into surrendering to Satan?

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse. (Galatians 1:8)

But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

Guard your heart, dear one. Know what Scripture has to say so that you can recognize Satan’s lies. Then stand firm. Because the truth is, there isn’t another Jesus. There is only the One who is revealed in the pages of the Bible. If anyone says they have had a special revelation concerning Jesus… they are lying

There is only one true Gospel. There is only one true Jesus.

Do not be deceived.

Proof Enough

Judges 6

Gideon needed proof. But he had proof.

When he realized he had been entertaining the angel of God, I would think that would have been proof enough. But a doubtful Gideon asked for another sign.

Jesus tells us it’s a wicked generation that asks for a sign. (Matthew 12:39, 16:4). Yet some people think they need the experience of speaking in tongues, or witnessing a miraculous healing, or seeing feathers fall from the rafters in order to believe that God is who He says He is.

Yet these same people often don’t take time to watch the sunrise, or may fail to marvel at the tiny fingers and toes of a newborn. They aren’t blown away at how God heals the scratch on their arms, or at seeing His strength in the wind. A changed life when a sinner repents ought to speak of the existence, will, and working of God in our lives and in this world.

But for some, that’s not enough.

Foolish and wicked.

We tend to look at the sky, at current events, at man’s opinions to find proof that Jesus is coming soon, when God has given us His word that He is coming again. That should be all the proof we need.

Jesus Himself spoke of heaven and hell, of grace and judgment, of holiness and sin. It’s pretty foolish to question Him or doubt what He said is true. Look at His birth, and His life on earth. Look at the cross. Look at the empty tomb. All proof that He has the authority to speak for God.

Do you need proof God exists? Read what He says about Himself. Trust that the Bible is true. Obey what it says. Seeking a sign or an experience is self-centered and anti-Christ.

Seek Him. He’s not hiding. He’s given you all the signs you need if you’ll just get out of the way, and pay attention.

He is proof enough.

(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 it 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.