Bible Reading Blog

Bible Reading Blog

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The Rock of My Heart

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

BIBLE READING: Psalm 6

“Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am languishing; heal me, O LORD, for my bones are troubled. My soul also is greatly troubled. But you, O LORD— how long?” (Psalm 6.2-3)

We are facing uncertain times. Maybe it’s not been overly dramatic for you, but we all are experiencing a dynamic shift in the status quo of our lives. The reality is that our lives will forever be changed by the events we are currently experiencing. If you’re anything like me, that has challenged you emotionally at times as you wrestle with what the future holds.

Our emotions often get out of balance in times of crisis. We see our foundations of wealth and security and health crumbling as the most powerful people in the world scramble to wrap their arms around our current situation. Again, these are uncertain times. This is where many of the psalmists were as they wrote their psalms. Their situations seemed hopeless, and so they appealed to God to offer them help and hope.

In times of crisis, we often appeal to a greater power to help us. Given our current situation, many people are appealing to the government, the CDC and WHO to do something about this global virus. Which make sense, as they have the means and the resources to combat [and hopefully eliminate] the threat we are currently facing.

But are we only hoping in them? Certainly, most believers have not abandoned faith, but are we looking for God to work, as intently as we are looking for the CDC and WHO to offer us a solution?

For believers, everything we experience must be framed in the context of God’s sovereign power. He is unchanging, immutable, firmly in control despite the chaos we see around us (Numbers 23.19; Psalm 119.90; Isaiah 40.28; James 1.17). I like to picture God as a rock in the midst of a violent, raging sea. Our current situation and our emotions are like waves that thrash about, driven by the chaos around us. Much like Peter we often put our focus on the storm and start sinking in our insecurity (Matthew 14.30). And yet as chaotic as our fears and concerns seem to us... and as our waves of emotion pound against the rock of God, he is unmoved and unfazed by it all.

“For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock but our God?” (Psalm 18.31)
“The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation” (Psalm 18.46)

Especially during these days, we need to take a break from the media and from giving so much thought to the problem. We need to shut off everything and just pray. We need to encourage our hearts with God’s power and might. This crisis is temporary; but because this world is not our home, we can live in confidence in the future. We need to refocus our attention on the rock of our salvation and hope.

“My heart and my flesh may fail, but God is the rock of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73.26)

Serve The LORD with Fear

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

BIBLE READING: Psalm 2

“Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling...” (Psalm 2.11)

Fear is dominating our world right now. The ascent of the coronavirus has escalated to global proportions, and no one seems to have an answer. In fact, most people have more questions than answers: Will we be able to get the things we need? How many are going to die? What does our future look like?

Because of this fear, many are taking actions to prepare for an unknown future affected by this virus. Consider how much thought and preparation have gone into this for the past couple of weeks. It’s all people have been talking about.

There is a reality being highlighted in these times that we need to consider: there is future we have no control over. But while most are thinking in temporal terms, we need to set our thoughts higher. There is a future coming that will, with certainty, affect all people with greater force than this virus.

“When Jesus returns from heaven, he will inflict vengeance on those who do not know and obey God. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of God” (2 Thessalonians 1.5-12, paraphrased)

The difference between this virus and Jesus’ return is that we know what that future looks like. Jesus is King and the wicked will be destroyed. As believers, we need to see what the current times are teaching us about our faith. Are we so urgent to prepare for Jesus to return? Peter would ask us, “What sort of people ought you to be... waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God?” (2 Peter 3.11-12)

Consider what the verse from Psalm 2 says. We ought to serve the LORD with fear. Why? Because just like our current times, we need to be moved to immediate action.

What are you serving out of fear right now? That may sound like a silly question, but consider how fear has moved so many in recent days. Out of fear, people are stockpiling food and resources. Out of fear people are investing in information about this pandemic. Out of fear, many are staying home to avoid contact with the disease. I’m not suggesting these decisions are foolish. But if we are so motivated to prepare for this crisis, how much more should we be preparing for Christ’s return?

The scriptures encourage us to stockpile treasures in heaven (Matthew 6.19-21), invest in information from God’s word (Proverbs 4.5-7; Colossians 3.16), and avoid the debilitating effects of sin (2 Timothy 2.21-26; Hebrews 13.5-6). To prepare for the present without considering our eternal future is foolish.

Jesus himself tells us “not to fear the one who can kill the body... but the one who can destroy both soul and body” (Matthew 10.28). Fear is a motivator. Motivation leads to action. Actions prompt preparation.

Death is certain. Some will die from this virus; others will not. The reality is we cannot choose how we die... but we can choose how we prepare for what comes next. What are you preparing for?

“...you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming...” (Matthew 24.44)

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)

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