Blogging the Bible: 2nd Thessalonians

I want to focus on chapter 2 verses 9 & 10 from today’s reading in this post.

As a pastor there are people whom like to share with me all kinds of “conspiracy theories” especially as they are related to the “end times” or rather the role those “conspiracy theories” will play in bringing about the end of time. Often these “conspiracies” are secrets, things most people can’t see but they are happening.

In the scriptures there is absolutely no evidence…at least I have not been shown anything regarding the end of time being brought about by secret societies or subversive conspiracies in the government. It seems the signs will be evident to those whom have studied scripture and followed Jesus and it seems to me at least that the signs will in no way be “secret” or “conspiracy theories.”

And that seems to be obvious in 2nd Thessalonians 2:9 as well,

“The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,”

Satan isn’t going to hide his power at the end in a conspiracy or secret he is going to use superpower force to convince people to follow him and his ways. He is going to use signs and wonders, false signs and wonders, but they are going to seem to be as miracles in order to deceive. None of that sounds like something secret or some conspiracy theory. People are not going to believe in the supernatural and worship a false god because of a conspiracy theory…no it is going to be a supernatural display that is going to blow people’s minds and make them in awe…

And there is only one way to avoid that deception,

“and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” 2 Thess. 2:10

Love the truth as it is in Jesus and receive Him as your Lord and Savior now. Don’t wait. Don’t risk being deceived and don’t spend your time chasing down theories…the Bible is clear the signs of the times are clear, the only way to really understand what is false is to fully know what is true. So spend your time studying the truth!

Next Reading: Leviticus 25-27

Blogging the Bible: John 1 & 2

Today we began the Gospel of John, to many their favorite Gospel and according to some polls like Biblegateway.com’s poll the favorite book in all the Bible with none of the synoptic Gospels in the top 10. John is not my favorite of the four Gospels (Luke is my current favorite, it used to be Mark, so one day it could be John :)), but it does possess some of my favorite passages in all of scripture like John 3:17…yes I know everyone else talks about John 3:16 also great, but I love John 3:17.

One of my favorite stories, a story that some scholars doubt that it should even be in the Bible or the veracity of it, I embrace it as a true part of the canon, John 8:2-11.

And of course John gives the most clear picture of the role of the Holy Spirit in all the Bible (John 14-16)

The Gospel of John is a great book and you’ll be blessed reading a portion of it every seven days for the next several weeks.

In all the Bible there is much we can spiritualize, which is not always a bad thing, it helps us add personal application, but at times we should address what is really being said because those perspectives can add great application as well, just such a topic appears in the first chapter of John,

“He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.” -John 1:11

I have heard and I have applied and I do apply this to myself and really all humanity. Since we were all made by Him John 1:3 in a true since we are all Jesus’ “own people.” But that application is really a spiritualization of the text. The literal idea/intent John is expressing is that Jesus, came as a Jew, came to the Jews–first–His own people–His remnant, and they rejected Him. Now John is not talking about individual Jews, he is speaking of the corporate system of Judaism. Why do I even point this out? It is not to pick on the Jews, but to point out Jesus was not a Jew exclusively for Jews. His mission in the book of John is very clear, He is a global Savior. The very next two verses reveal this,

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” -John 1:12, 13

“To ALL,” who are the “ALL”? Those that were not born simply as Jews by blood/flesh/will of man, though this does not eliminate the ability of a individual born Jewish to be saved, but that salvation is no longer and should no longer be perceived as a matter of birth, but as a matter of heart!

Then we see again in John 1:29 a mission statement for Jesus and we see again it is global not localized to the Jewish nation,

“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” -John 1:29

Jesus’ mission is for all humanity and His desire is that all humanity will receive Him as their Savior. We are all invited to be part of the remnant of His seed.

Tomorrow’s Reading: The book of 2nd Thessalonians

Blogging the Bible: Proverbs 14 & 15

The Proverbs are a treasure trove and literally every Proverb I am sure in some aspect can be applied to my life, but I will not just rewrite the Proverbs out in their entirety so here are the two that remind me of areas I need to improve:

A soft answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger. -Proverb 15:1

Without counsel plans fail,
    but with many advisers they succeed. -Proverb 15:22

Which of the proverbs from these two chapters is the Holy Spirit asking you to ponder on a little longer?

Tomorrow’s Reading: Ezekiel 43-48

Blogging the Bible: Psalms 90-92

In today’s reading of three beautiful Psalms one verse in particular stood out to me as a prayer request for my life.

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
    and establish the work of our hands upon us;
    yes, establish the work of our hands!” -Psalm 90:17

Lord Jesus as I move out of this summer and begin another busy season in service to Your church may everything that we do as a church, that I do as a pastor be established by You! Let me not come to the end of the year and see the work any man or woman could accomplish on their own, but may we see evidence that truly You established our work for this season of ministry! -Amen

Tomorrow’s Reading: Proverbs 14 & 15

Blogging the Bible: 2 Kings 21-25

I would imagine that most leaders long to be “Josiah’s” …Great reformers. Willing to make whatever change is necessary for the good of the people. A person that is as true as the needle to the pole.

Some try and fail miserably.

Some are to scared to really deal with the conflict thus organizations, churches, schools, stay static…maybe even static in great sin.

What was it that made Josiah so strong.

His personality? His giftedness? His confidence?

It seems the answer is in 2 Kings 23:26,

“Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.”

What made Josiah a great reformer?

  1. His change was complete, “ALL his heart…ALL his soul…ALL his might” there was nothing have baked about the reformation of his own life!
  2. His change was based on the the Word of God…ALL the Word of God. Josiah as he understood it lived up to every aspect of God’s Word. There was no picking and choosing.

The greatest reformers:

  • Martin Luther
  • John Wesley
  • William Miller

Became great reformers in the order of Josiah as they gave their ALL due to ALL they learned in the Word of God.

I cannot reform anyone or anything without being first reformed myself, not by self-help or self-will, but by God’s Word.

Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalms 90-92

Blogging the Bible Days 144, 151, & 158: Psalms 60-68

Psalm 60: The Psalmist sees God as the one who has defeated Israel in some capacity. But the Psalmist quickly moves into promise of hope that even in the midst of struggle, maybe even in the midst of punishment the people have somewhere to go,

You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
    that they may flee to it from the bow. -Psalm 60:4

A reminder to us that when in tough times, even when those times are due to our wrong and sinful ways, God has set a banner for us to see, a place for us to return for safety, refuge, and renewal. What a wonderful promise!

Psalm 61: This Psalm to me feels like a plea from one who feels isolated, separated from the things in life that feel comfortable, feel safe. The Psalmist knows in who past security and comfort has been found, “You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.” And then as is so often the case, almost as a statement of faith, or not almost but definitely as a statement of faith that it will happen the last verse (v. 8) is a word of praise in expectation of a positive outcome.

Psalm 62: Let the opening stanza of this Psalm be the reality of our hearts today and every day.

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
    from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
    my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. -Psalm 62:1, 2

The last line is a beautiful dose of reality, “I will not be GREATLY shaken.” I will be shaken in certain instances, but praise Jesus through Him I will not be GREATLY shaken.

Psalm 63: Read the first 8 verses of this Psalm. Do you, do I have this great of recognition of the need for God in our lives? I’ve met people who do, the difference in the peace they have and I often have is far different. The greatest example of this great dependence on God I’ve ever seen was one of my mentors Pastor Hazel Burns. You could hear the dependence in her prayers, you could see the dependence in her boldness, you believed God trusted her to rely solely on Him by supplying her with amazing divine encounters! “O God, You are my God!”

Psalm 64: I see in this Psalm a reminder that as I cast judgments or even lay plans of revenge against another if I do so I do so at the risk that those things would come back to be used against me. I know that most would put themselves in the position of the one that is being attacked, but I am not so arrogant to believe that it is not my tongue and my plotting and my heart that are the ones laying evil. Help me Jesus.

Psalm 65: This psalm, beyond the beauty of the message, just the rhythm and the flow of the lyrics are beautiful and pleasant to read. But to me the greatest beauty of this Psalm is the proclamation of God’s divine power in verses 5-13 that affirm His power to forgive our sins (verses 1-4).

“When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions.” -Psalm 65:3

Psalm 66: The most powerful line in this psalm to me is in verse 16

Come and hear, all you who fear God,
    and I will tell what he has done for my soul. -Psalm 66:16

I wish more believers in Christ even if they knew nothing else of God they would follow the example here of the Psalmist and be an evangelist through their testimony. If you and I know nothing else we still know what our experience with God has been and that is the hardest thing for an unbeliever to argue with. “Come and let me tell you what God has done for me.” That should be our opening evangelistic line to our neighbors, coworkers, and the strangers on the street.

Psalm 67: 

May God be gracious to us and bless us
    and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
    your saving power among all nations. -Psalm 67:1, 2

Are God’s blessings and grace all about me? Or should they be all about making Him better known and better loved? I believe the correct answer is the latter.

Psalm 68: I didn’t really resonate with this Psalm when I read it, so I went to my commentaries and I am so glad I did! Because I got out of it this one little nugget. The translators all translate the names in this psalm as “God” or “Lord.” But in this psalm almost all the remarkable titles of Deity are employed to describe and praise the God of the universe. “Elohim,” v. 2; “Adonai,” v. 12; “Shaddai,” v. 15; “Jehovah,” v. 17; “Jah,” v. 19; “Al,” v. 20. Each name of God paints a different picture of God. Let us learn the names of God sometimes, just saying God does not reveal enough of who He is.

 

 

Blogging the Bible Days 163 & 170: Leviticus 1-6

The book of Leviticus is challenging and these first few chapters all full of blood and food being offered as sacrifice. Since it is challenging I went to a commentary to get some insights and I wanted to share those with you here.

The first thing I learned is that the chronological framework from the book of Leviticus, actually only occupies ONE MONTH in the Sinai Desert. So if this book isn’t really a book that relates a story or history as Genesis, Exodus, & Numbers do then why is it here in the Pentateuch? The focus of this the middle book of the five books of Moses (the Pentateuch) “is on the way God’s people are to interact with divine holiness, in worship and other aspects of life.”

And then beginning in chapter one and carrying through all the way through chapter 6 Moses jumps straight into what seems to be the heart of their worship experience, sacrifice!

We see in these six chapters that God is very specific about what true worship is and isn’t and that all the functions of worship are dictated by His inspired Word.

Realizing these truths something struck me as I read.

Moses in this book, that is a book about worship, about how to relate to Holiness in worship and life, the immediate inspiration he received was to write about sacrifice as the first element of worship. In our modern day and age worship is not defined by most of us…let’s be honest when we choose churches to go and worship at, most of us are not asking the question, “what would God like me to sacrifice to Him as a symbol of my love and loyalty?” Most of us are asking, “What can this church do for me?” “Is the music a music I will like?” “Did I think the preacher was funny or interesting?” “Well I don’t really care for the church but the children’s programs are great so I will stick with this church for the sake of my kids, but once they’re older I am moving on.” Wow. It seems almost none of our questions are about sacrifice.

Also, I would say is what is important to us in worship more about what we like or more about what has been dictated to us by God?

Tough questions. If we’re honest maybe questions that would convict us to reexamine why and how we worship.

Next Reading: 1 Kings 10-18 (164-171)

Blogging the Bible Day 162: Ephesians 1-3

These chapters are rich!

Some thoughts that came to mind in bullet form as I read:

  • We must learn more of the Holy Spirit. He is the GUARANTEE of our “inheritance” eternal salvation. Guarantee being down payment…note holder. (1:14)
  • The desire of every pastors heart, that he/she would hear of his/her members “faith” in Jesus and “love” towards one another. How would a pastor hear of this unless it was being seen by someone because it is truly being lived out! (1:15)
  • “We ALL once lived in the passions of our flesh.” Let us be patient with others knowing we’ve been there too…even if we don’t even realize we have. (2:3)
  • Jesus died because of His great LOVE for all humanity. Love not law drove Him to the cross. He fulfilled the law, but it was not legal obligation that made Him go. It was love. A reminder to us that LAW will never drive anyone to make great sacrifice, only absolute LOVE. (2:4, 5)
  • “Not your own doing” “Not a result of works” (2:8, 9)
  • Mystery of the Gospel–it is for everyone. How is that a mystery now? The person you think least deserves the Gospel, deserves it! (3:4-6)

Next Reading: Leviticus 1-3

Blogging the Bible Day 161: Luke 9 & 10

A few thoughts on this reading, two on evangelism, one on our own personal relationship with Jesus, and one on the Orlando mass shooting.

Two Thoughts on Evangelism

Thought One…

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He told them: “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.” -Luke 9:1-6

Jesus’ method included addressing physical needs and teaching the message of the Gospel. Not one or the other. Both/And!

I’ve heard it said, “The health message is the right arm of evangelism.”

“The union of Christlike work for the body and Christlike work for the soul is the true interpretation of the gospel.”– Ellen G. White, Evangelism, p. 515

Thought Two…

“After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.” -Luke 10:1

Of course the next verse is the famous one we often hear…

“He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” -Luke 10:2

Verse two teaches us that we need more workers, but verse one teaches us a lot too!

  1. Send out those you have. You may only have 72 when you need 1000, but don’t wait for the 1000 send out the 72.
  2. Send people out in teams. Team ministry is better than solo ministry. As far as I can read in the writings of Paul he always had a partner in ministry too, whether Barnabas, Titus, Timothy, etc..
  3. Do pre-work before going for the big reaping. “sent them two by two AHEAD of him to every town…He was about to go.” Pre-work is Biblical!
  4. Thus then the corollary to that would be go where the ground has already been previously tilled some.

One Thought on Our Own Personal Relationship with Jesus (obviously there are way more than one in this reading, but one hit me):

“do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” -Luke 10:20

My thought: Don’t rejoice about the powers you have being connected to Jesus, just rejoice that you’re connected to Jesus. I was convicted on this because I think I and probably other preachers rejoice in compliments on sermons or on being known as decent preachers. Jesus would probably say to us, “Good deal, but don’t rejoice over that gift you have from being connected to me. Just rejoice you’re connected to me!”

My Thought on The Orlando Mass Shooting:

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them.” -Luke 9:51-55

Shame on those who want to declare or define judgment on those they believe have wronged God either through open rejection or through embracing of sin. Jesus rebuked His disciples for using language even that would close the door on this city and this people.

Next Reading: Ephesians 1-3

 

 

Blogging the Bible Day 152: Proverbs 1

A statement that I understand more with each passing day and one that I wish I understood more when I was still in their home. Oh even with all their flaws, had I heeded the principles they taught me how much more blessed, less stressed, and without regret my life would have been!

“Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
    and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
    and pendants for your neck.”  Proverbs 1:8, 9

Thank you Mom and Dad for still being advisors to my life. I think I listen a little better these days.

Next Reading: Jeremiah 47-52