Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

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Who Is Too Strong For Him?

Monday, June 29, 2020

BIBLE READING: Psalm 35

“…O LORD, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?” (Psalm 35.10)

David was a successful man of war (1 Samuel 18.7), and yet he unashamedly cries to God for help. It is rare to see a man of his position with such a low view of himself (compare with Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.8-10; 42-47). Valient men are often preceded by pride and pretense. 

But David was “a man after God's own heart” (Acts 13.22), which meant he didn’t allow his foolish pride to dominate or drive him to despair. David learned early on it was God who fought and won his battles, so he made no pretense of his own greatness (1 Samuel 17.45-47; Psalm 35.10). Instead, he habitually humbled himself to God’s power and sovereignty. He knew it was only with God and through God that he would defeat his enemies and find lasting success. 

In our spiritual warfare, we sometimes forget it is God who fights and is victorious for us (Romans 8.31-39; 1 Corinthians 15.57; Ephesians 6.10). We may be able to confront temptation and sin with our best efforts; but our “success” will always be short-lived. I'm not saying we don't have to show up for the battle, but our 10 steps to success are not what allows us to overcome sin and temptation. It is only through the power of God, through the Spirit of God and the blood of Jesus that we overcome the evil we face in this world (Ephesians 6.10; Philippians 4.13). 

God has revealed that our battles are not against flesh and blood but against unseen forces that cause stress, tension and conflict (Ephesians 6.12). We need to acknowledge that the challenges we face at work, at home and in our relationships are the result of Satan’s manipulation and lies. He wants you to look at your coworker, spouse, children or whomever it might be and see them as the enemy, instead of engaging your issues on a spiritual level. 

Naturally we don't think this way. If we truly believed God to be the Creator and Sustainer of this world and our lives, we would immediately humble ourselves in desperate appeal for his vindication and help. Every. Single. Moment. If you choose to fight your battles alone, see how far you can get, and tap God when you’re tapped out, you’re not trusting God—you’re letting God know you don’t need him.

We will face challenges that are too much and too strong for us, and on our own, we will succumb to sin. But we are not without help or hope. “God is a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46.1) and we can “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6.10-11). Like David, we need to trust God and use the tools he has given us to reconcile difficult situations and restore relationship. But above all, we must be humble enough to accept that we need him. 

“…my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in his salvation.” (Psalm 35.9)

We Are Created

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

BIBLE READING: Psalm 33

“By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” (Psalm 33.6-9)

Evolution, agnosticism and other forms of philosophy offer compelling ways of thought. They appeal to curious thinkers because they offer a self-guided path without definite truths, allowing “freedom” of thought and action. To accept that there is a Creator immediately puts one in a position of subjection, which largely does not appeal to an individualistic society. Fewer and fewer people accept these truths as more than a story in an old book. Even Christianity has become diluted at times by cultural philosophy (Colossians 2.8). 

And so, we must regularly rehearse and engage this fundamental truth: “In the beginning, God created…” (Genesis 1.1). It is foundational to our entire Christian belief system. “whoever would come to God must believe that he exists…” (Hebrews 11.6).

Our faith is predicated on God as THE Creator. There are not multiple forces at work in this reality. We, and our world, are not some accidental science experiment from a random universe. It was designed with pattern, power and precision. Everything we see, and everything we are, were made with intentionality and purpose.

The evidence of a Creator is revealed in our world, a fact we would be foolish to ignore (2 Peter 3.5). God gave a witness both in his design and in his word (Psalm 19.1-6). Honesty stripped of pretense must follow logic to this conclusion: By his word, all things were made from nothing (Psalm 33.6; Hebrews 11.3). 

If this is so, we must not only fear him, but we must subject ourselves to his will and purposes. He fashions and inspects all of creation (Psalm 33.15). He expects it to respond in the way he designed it (Job 9.3-12; Psalm 19.1-6). To live thoughtless of this fact is to ignore the most fundamental premise of our reality. We are created beings who are subject to our Creator (Colossians 1.16). 

Ultimate purpose and fulfillment are realized by utter submission to him. This is highly unpopular and even presents an affront to human ingenuity; but it is reality. We are made in His image (Genesis 1.27), not the other way around. Thus, we must be diligent to learn his ways, and take seriously the patterns he sets forth. To know these things is to know life and purpose and joy (John 17.3; Romans 15.13). 

“…from where he sits enthroned he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth… Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.” (Psalm 33.14, 18)

Patterns of Respect

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

BIBLE READING: Ecclesiastes 8

“...Keep the king’s command, because of God’s oath to him.” (Ecclesiastes 8.2)

We live in a time when it is popular to criticize authority. Especially right now, many are decrying the poor choices and corruption of those in positions of authority. We are given the freedom and liberty to do so without immediate consequences. But look at the news and you can see what human passions unleashed creates: strife, division and unrest.

I hate some of the things I see in our world. Injustice exists in places of authority (Ecclesiastes 3.16; 4.2). Men with bad character and upside down morality lead in all corners of our world. In your lifetime, you will experience leadership with which you may completely disagree.

While we cannot control how leaders will behave, we can control how we respond to them. In wisdom, we must temper our perception of power abused with an understanding that all forms of leadership have their shortcomings. No one can predict the future or operate with perfect foresight (Ecclesiastes 8.7). 

I don’t say this to dismiss or excuse ungodly behavior, but to offer perspective. Although leadership may be imperfect at times, it is necessary to have structure and government in a society. This is God’s pattern (Romans 13.1-2), and it is not only practical, but imperative to the stability of any society. “...rulers are not a terror to good conduct but to bad” (Romans 13.3). God’s hope is not to establish the perfect earthly government — he has already set his king on the throne (Psalm 2)!— but to create a context in which his people can fulfill their mission: to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with their God (Micah 6.8)

“... I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. (1 Timothy 2.1-2)

God expects believers to pray for, and to humbly submit to the authority of earthly leaders. Our subjection to human authority despite its corruption shows our submission to God (Romans 13.1-2), and gives a greater platform for the gospel of peace through Jesus Christ.

It is evident our cultural forms of conflict resolution are not only defective but destructive. The attack on governing bodies has only deepened the divide along cultural and racial lines. God’s people need to take a stand during these times of cultural tension and model God’s patterns of respect for one another and authority. The peace we promote is not of this world. And so, let us obey God rather than man by putting our passions aside, seeking justice in our own life and character, and humbly submitting to authority for the sake of God‘s kingdom

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2.17)

Nothing New

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

BIBLE READING: Ecclesiastes 1

“What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1.9)

It’s exciting to start something new. It energizes our spirit and produces hopefulness because of its potential. But the honeymoon always ends. Ecclesiastes snubs the pleasantries of feel-good philosophy and blasts us with a concentrated dose of reality. Any experience, at its very best, is temporary and futile. If you’re doing it, it’s already been done and proven to be unsatisfying. Just pack up and go home already.

Life experience teaches this brutal truth; so it makes sense to cut to the chase rather than muddle our way to this reality. We've all heard people say, “there’s nothing new under the sun” as a complaint against life’s futility. When Solomon wrote the statement, he was emphasizing the cyclic nature of human life on earth and the emptiness of living only for the “rat race.” He observed that despite human efforts, the world continues unchanged. All the activity of a man during his lifetime is lost in the grander scheme of things. Part of Solomon’s frustration from this observation is that “no one remembers the former generations, and even those yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow them” (Ecclesiastes 1.11). People tend to forget the past, repeating its mistakes as a result.

The futility of life can be depressing and debilitating. But one thing we all have in common is that in desperation we see honesty. When pretense is stripped away and reality acknowledged, we have no choice but to objectively evaluate our existence. 

So, does the fact that there is nothing new under the sun mean we should give up trying? The entire book of Ecclesiastes should be read before jumping to any conclusion. In the end, Solomon writes this: “Now all has been heard... here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12.13–14).

In other words, life involves more than what happens “under the sun.” Living for God and His glory is the goal of life. Those who do not seek this goal will not only be left wanting, but will ultimately be judged by God (Romans 14.12; 2 Corinthians 5.10). Even our good deeds that have gone unnoticed in this life are seen by God and will be rewarded in the future. This knowledge should result in a life lived for God, with a deep love for others and desire to make a difference.

There may be nothing new under the sun, but Jesus promises, someday, to make all things new (Revelation 21.5). So, while we must accept the futility of life under the sun, we can live a life of purpose a meaning filled with hope beyond this life. 

Think About It

Tuesday, June 02, 2020

BIBLE READING: Proverbs 16

“Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.” (Proverbs 16.20)

I start every day with bible reading. It is a critical habit that gets my day started right. However, a couple weeks ago, someone asked me about what I read that morning and I couldn’t remember. I remember reading the words, but nothing stuck…

I suspect we’ve all found ourselves here before. We check the bible reading box for the day but we’re not sure what we just read. Which begs the question, what value does it offer if we don’t remember it?

An important discipline in spiritual development is meditating on truth and looking for ways to apply it. The language of this Proverb suggests not simply a time investment but resting our mind knowing the value it offers. Consider these other verses: 

“Blessed is the man… whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1.1-2)

“For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1.23-25)

Reading God’s Word is vitally important, but without extended thought, we will forget. Notice that hearing and doing are what produce blessedness (James 1.22). 

We are conditioned to live on impulse and minimal information. The media offers sound bites and Twitter gives us 140 characters from which we are encouraged to form opinions. What results are often “firecracker reactions” that emotionally drive people to ignorant beliefs and create deep-seeded tensions. Our present cultural and political dynamic accentuates the folly of impetuous living. It never leads to positive outcomes and creates constant fear of the next moment. 

We sometimes take this shallow approach to God’s word. We minimize the depth of God’s wisdom by relegating important truths to bumper stickers and catchy blurbs on social media. However, wisdom is a process that develops with patience and grace. Much like a diamond in the rough, it takes time and effort to uncover the beauty of God’s wisdom in our life. 

There is vitality in focused thought on God’s word. It is a lamp to our feet and light to our path (Psalm 119.105). It enlightens us to right choices in difficult situations. We are foolish to be satisfied with a shallow investment in God’s Word. So, don’t just read your bible… Think about it. 

“Blessed is the man who meditates day and night on God’s word. He is like a tree planted by a stream that bear fruit and thrives. In everything he does, he prospers.” (Psalm 1.1-3, paraphrased)

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