Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

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Sexual Purity

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

BIBLE READING: Proverbs 7

The Proverbs frequently emphasize the need for sexual purity. The father warns of the “forbidden woman” (Proverbs 2.16; 5.3, 20; 7.5; 22.14) who seems to have caught his son’s attention (Proverbs 5.3; 6.25). She is attractive, enticing and accessible. She encourages pleasure without discretion.

The momentum and energy of Proverbs 7 are a reminder of how sexual temptation often overtakes those who entertain it. It begins with such innocence (Proverbs 7.7) but quickly escalates with passion and gusto. The prospect of sexual fulfillment is tantalizing to this young man and he is compelled by it (Proverbs 7.21).

Hence the father’s warnings: Don’t look over there (Proverbs 4.25), stay far away (Proverbs 5.8), don’t desire her (Proverbs 6.25), don’t even walk that way! (Proverbs 7.25).

Sexual sin is alluring and often requires the blunt force of truth to combat it’s effects. The father pulls no punches when expressing the consequences: It will destroy your reputation, relationships and ultimately your life (Proverbs 5.23; 6.32-35; 7.23). As people of faith we must not only accept but promote this unpopular truth: Sexual promiscuity is foolish.

We exist in a society that has become increasing loose in terms of morality. After all, sex sells. Prudence has given way to sexual expression as the norm. In many ways even we have become numb to the shameless way our culture has presented sexual pursuits. Unfortunately, we have all seen the aftermath when biblical principles of morality are rejected; and yet there are times when pornography, sexual promiscuity and adultery still infiltrates the lives of believers.

In wisdom, we must acknowledge how this way of life ends. “…at the end of your life you groan… ‘How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof!... I am at the brink of utter ruin!” (Proverbs 5.11-14 paraphrased). Wisdom pleads that we practice discipline and learn from the mistakes of others.

Sexual sin is not exclusive to men but needs to be specifically addressed for us. Our nature is to pursue and conquer. This temptation caters to this craving. We must make intentional efforts to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4.23) and our eyes (Job 31.1; Psalm 119.37) as we pursue holiness.

Having said that, we must also consider these warnings in a broader context as well. Temptation is personified to communicate the danger and draw of our natural desires (Proverbs 7.10). Sin approaches and promises to fulfill our needs. Satan plays off our wants for pleasure and belonging by offering us temporal fulfillment. And so, we must be wise in whom and what we allow ourselves to find satisfaction.

There is an objective nature to wisdom. We mustn’t think our situation is so unique that God’s wisdom does not apply to us. We must practice discipline and guard our hearts, lest we too fall prey to Satan’s lies.

“The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. He dies for lack of discipline…” (Proverbs 5.22-23a)

Please Listen!

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

BIBLE READING: Proverbs 1-5

“Don’t do that.” I feel like I say that 100 times a day to my two-year-old. She’s constantly trying to touch and grab everything, without thought of consequences. Sometimes I bark this out of frustration, but almost always I say it to keep her from having to suffer the consequences of bad choices. Even so, she still wants to sit on the edge of the couch... and inevitably she falls off.

It’s frustrating when you want to help someone but they won’t listen, especially when it is your kids. In Proverbs, the father repeatedly encourages his son to listen, hear and receive his words (Proverbs 1.8; 2.1; 3.1; 4.1; 5.1). I think these repetitions show us the father’s heart as he pleads with his son to learn from his mistakes and the wisdom he gained. Do you think the son listened?

I know from experience that children often do things their own way, even if the advice is good. But if we’re honest, sometimes we revert to our child-like tendencies. Isaiah said we are all like sheep going astray (Isaiah 53.6), and the father emphasizes how we tend to run down the path that seems right to us (Proverbs 14.12; 16.25).

The scriptures often refer to us as children (Ephesians 5.1; Philippians 2.15; 1 John 3.1-2) because we tend to be stubborn, forgetful, or self-sufficient. We don’t listen or accept advice well. This is especially true when it comes to wisdom from God (Isaiah 6.10; Jeremiah 5.21; Matthew 13.15).

The father-son relationship on display in Proverbs is the same dynamic we experience with God. He offers us wisdom and discipline (Proverbs 3.11-12; Hebrews 12.5-11) in hopes of keeping us from danger and bringing us closer to him (Ephesians 2.12-17). Do we listen to our Father?

The wisdom in Proverbs offers practical truths we all need. It matters who your friends are (1.10-19), how you spend your money (3.9-10), and what information you allow into your mind (5.7-14). It matters where you walk and how you walk (2.1-22). Through the Spirit, God is saying, “Please listen to me... For your good, to help you learn from the mistakes of others." These truths reflect the wisdom from our Heavenly Father, who pleads with us to be warned and changed.

We must be mature enough to not only we accept his words, but apply them to our life. Just because the consequences are delayed does not mean we know better. If we get too close to the edge of the couch, there are dangers. Let us never be so foolish to think we will not fall (1 Corinthians 10.12).

“Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts...” (Hebrews 4.7)

“...do not refuse him who is speaking to you.” (Hebrews 12.25)

Do You Believe?

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

BIBLE READING: John 20

“Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20.30-31)

The evidence regarding the deity of Jesus is staggering, and yet most people throughout history will not believe in him (Matthew 7.13-14; John 12.37, 14.6). There is always a skeptic, an arguer, a dissenter. Someone with a selfish, proud, stubborn heart. There will always be someone who wants more evidence (John 20.25).

But how much evidence do you need to believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

Some people followed Jesus after hearing him once. But for others, it took more time. They needed more evidence and verification. They had to wrestle with their own doubts and fears. Some had to develop personal courage to follow the evidence and do what was right. And so it is with us at times.

Belief in Jesus is critical, but it is not always easy (Mark 10.17-22; John 6.60-66). John has shown us that the process of belief is different for every person. And so, we need to take our cues from Jesus regarding…

  • …how we treat others. Jesus was remarkably patient and merciful. He made no attempt to compare others to himself. He humbly encouraged self-examination and personal change. We are expected to encourage the weak and challenge the strong (Jude 22-23), but we must always remain humble in our approach (Philippians 2.5-8)
  • …how we treat ourselves. Sometimes we think more of ourselves than we ought to. Other times we feel like we’re worthless and will never be what God wants us to be. It is easy to get out of balance as we evaluate ourselves. And so, we must learn to see ourselves in light of God’s grace (Romans 5.5-8) and understand the need to humbly walk with Jesus.

If you don’t spend time with Jesus, listening and learning, walking and growing, he won’t be real in your life. You won’t believe because you will not know the power of his words, the conviction of his life, or the relationship you desperately need with the Father of life.

The world has never seen a more unique character in history. Religious and secular historians agree that the life and message of Jesus has changed the world forever. In his gospel, John has given us reason to believe Jesus is the Son of God... but our decision to believe and follow him remains. 

The evidence has been presented. Jesus’ teaching and life are before us. Either he is a crazy person, a con-man, or he is who he claimed to be. Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in his should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3.16)

No Broken Bones

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

BIBLE READING: John 19

“But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs… these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”” (John 19.33, 36)

Just before liberating Israel from slavery, God instructed them to sacrifice a lamb without blemish. As part of the process, he explicitly directed that none of its bones were to be broken (Exodus 12.46). What is the point of this detail? Some see this as a power play from a controlling dictator. But what God was doing in that time was establishing a pattern that would help future generations understand his work through Jesus (Hebrews 9-10).

The Passover lamb foreshadowed God’s ultimate work and deliverance through Christ (Psalm 34.20; John 1.29; 1 Corinthians 5.7). Just as the Israelites were enslaved and without hope, so are we enslaved to sin (Romans 3.23, 6.6; Galatians 4.3, 8). But God, promises deliverance to those who would follow his command and apply the blood (Exodus 12.21-32; Colossians 1.20; 1 Peter 1.18-19). This detail from John’s gospel undeniably connects the death of Jesus to God’s work through this specific event. He created salvation and God expects his people to remember that! The foreshadowing of Christ throughout the Law reveals to us that God was in control of the whole process.

God knew what would happen to Jesus when he sent him into this world (Acts 2.23). But not only that, he knew HOW it would happen, down to the most minute detail. And so, we not only see consistency in God’s plan, but we see fulfillment.

These details are the substance of our faith. They remind us that God hasn't changed his mind or altered his plan. This is important because sometimes the moment you’re in doesn’t make sense. But God is always in the details. “All things work together for good for those who love the Lord, according to his purpose” (Romans 8.28). As demonstrated through the Exodus and through Christ, the result of God’s plan is always liberation and victory. It doesn’t always look that way in the details… But that’s because we haven’t gotten to the end yet. These details remind us God is there and that he’s working his plan.

We need to trust that even if things don’t make sense for us now, God is faithful. He’s proven that through the fulfillment of his plan through Jesus; and one day everyone will know the faithfulness of God.

“Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities” (Isaiah 53.10-11)

This is Eternal Life

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

BIBLE READING: John 17

"This is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (John 17.3)

What do you hope for from eternal life? What does that look like for you? The Revelation to John offers glimpses into the splendor of eternity. Streets of gold, a magnificent throne room, peace and security, no sickness and death. As God revealed to John, eternal life is an experience of complete perfection. But a clear point is pushed forward as John concludes: perfection exists because everything flows from God. He is the Originator of life and light, and in His presence they exist in perpetuity (Revelation 21.22-22.5). 

In scripture, the picture and promise of eternal life is not in what will be seen, but with whom it will be spent. Our Maker wants us to be with Him, where he will sustain everything, forever. And so, eternal life is not a destination… it is a relationship with the One who is eternal through his word. “Blessed is the man who delights in God word and meditates on it” (Psalm 1.1-2, paraphrased). The psalmist compares him to being like a tree that is planted by a stream— it always flourishes and prospers (Psalm 1.3, paraphrased). 

Eternal life is a connection to God, through Jesus the Word (John 1.14; 15.7). Notice how John has emphasized this point:

  • “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life…” (John 3:36)

  • “…whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life…” (John 5:24)

  • “Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…" (John 6:68-69)

The word of God through Jesus brings us into a unified relationship with the Father (John 17.22-23). This is why Jesus was adamant about doing and teaching the Father’s will (John 5.19, 30). Obedience and submission made him one with God (John 10.30). 

Our deliberate obedience makes us like God in our nature and character. Knowing God is not merely about information. To know God is to be transformed, and thus to be introduced to a life that could not otherwise be experienced (Romans 12.1-2).

With this in mind, it puts our actions in proper context. To read God’s word is to become more intimately aware of Him. To conform our lives to His will is to pull ourselves closer to the One who heals, helps and sustains us. As Paul would proclaim, "I count everything as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Philippians 3.8). 

Eternal life will not simply be a place of fun, filled with our favorite things from this lifetime. It is a continuation and completion of our relationship to the Father. We will no longer struggle with the separation from God, but will know Him fully, as He knows us. And so, “let us press on to know the LORD" (Hosea 6:3) and “Jesus Christ whom he has sent” (John 17.3).

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