Tag Archives: the Bible

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.

October 17; Do You Wonder?

Mark 9:2-37; Matthew 17:1-23, 18:1-5; Luke 9:28-48

On Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the school year, I have the privilege of volunteering at Good News Clubs in two of our local elementary schools. Between the two schools, we are sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with almost 100 children.

I wish you could see their faces and hear their comments and questions as God begins to reveal Himself to them, and draw them to Himself. Some children have never heard the Biblical accounts of real people with whom God walked and talked so many years ago. And some who have already heard the stories, begin to understand the meaning behind them. I’m telling you, it’s a blessing every week. Their wide-eyed enthusiasm is contagious.

Jesus told His disciples that all of us must approach Him through the eyes of a child. Oh, to have that wonder, that excitement in hearing God’s Word, to have open hearts and uncluttered minds eager to learn.

I think sometimes we might open our Bibles after years of walking with the Lord and think, “I’ve heard it all before.” But friend, if we go to God with the understanding that we are as ignorant as children concerning spiritual things, God will continue to teach us. If we close ourselves off to more, we’ll stay right where we are.

Now, please, I am not talking about a new revelation that is extra-Biblical. I’m not talking about twisting what God says in His Word to come up with a new enlightenment, or new religion. But there are things we can learn from God’s Word that are backed up and true according to Scripture.

Let’s not miss what God wants us to know at this time in our lives, thinking we are already mature in the Lord. Oh, maturity is a good thing. We are told to grow in grace and knowledge, to study to show ourselves approved.

But let’s not lose the wonder, and the blessing that is God’s Word.

 

October 12; Guard Your Heart

John 5:16-47; Mark 6:6-11; Matthew 9:35-10:42; Luke 9:1-5

God gave the twelve disciples the ability to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.” (Matthew 6:8) Jesus charged them with the mission of preaching His message throughout the territory: “The kingdom of heaven is near.”

What I am going to say is going to be controversial to many. But hear me out. The fact is, Judas Iscariot is listed by name as one of the twelve given this ability. Judas followed Jesus as much as the other eleven, was used by God along with the others, had the same message, and the same gifts.

I’ve heard people say Judas didn’t really believe. Scripture does not say that. We know from Scripture that something happened in Judas, and he eventually walked away from the Truth, betraying Jesus. But what we read here in Matthew gives us every indication that he and the other disciples were on a mission for God together.

Most people I know firmly believe a believer can’t stop being a believer, once saved always saved. I think that is a dangerous theology, according to Scripture. I read account after account of God’s “chosen people” walking away from Him, worshiping idols, blatantly disobeying God after worshiping Him. I think of Solomon. I know there are arguments against that point of view, but let’s forego the debate for a minute.

Here’s my concern and it’s being played out in 2019 through the “Bethel Movement.” Christians all over the world are gravitating toward this lie. Bible believing churches are singing Bethel praise songs, Christian radio is playing Hillsong, Amanda Cook, Jeremy Riddle, and others. People who love the Lord get satisfaction praising God with abandoned while repeating, “You’re a Good Good Father.”

What’s wrong with that, you might ask. I would encourage you to look into this movement for yourself. It is gaining strength, and Christians are abandoning the Truth in hoards. The god they are praising is not the God of the Bible. But they would have you believe the Bethel Movement is the awakening of true Christianity.

Look into it, but not before you know what the Bible says. Don’t look into Mormonism, or the Bethel Movement or any other cult without knowing what Scripture says. Not a verse here and there. The Bible is the complete Word of God. Period.

Guard your hearts. Stand for the Truth of Scripture. I think it’s more important today than it has been at any time in my lifetime. This is serious.

It’s true that no one can snatch a believer out of God’s hand. Satan will never have the power to override your will to be true to God.

Unless you let him.

September 16; Getting Our Priorities Straight

Ezra 7:1-8:14; Psalm 106

There’s no question Ezra was used by God in amazing fashion. He was instrumental in re-establishing Jerusalem as the City of God, of re-settling the returning Jews into the Promised Land, and of reminding the Jews of their relationship with God and their need of Him.

But there is one verse that struck me today as I read these verses. Ezra 7:10:

For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel.

Sure, Ezra wanted the temple up and running again, he wanted the exiled Jews home again. But he wasn’t devoted to any of that. His devotion was toward God’s Word, for himself and for others. Ezra had his priorities straight. And because he spent time in God’s Word for himself, then shared it with others, he was able to then do great things for God.

Sometimes I think we forget that first important step. We get busy doing things for God, teaching SS, singing in the choir, volunteering, visiting… we neglect our personal time in God’s Word.

Please don’t let this blog, or a commentary, or a study guide replace your time reading the Bible, opening God’s Word and allowing Him to speak to you personally. I mean, I’m glad you drop by here to see what God has impressed on my heart. But don’t ever let that take the place of allowing Him to speak to you directly through the pages of His love letter to you.

What are you devoted to? Let’s be sure we all have our priorities straight.

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?