Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Books of the Bible’ Category

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1.

Even the psalmist acknowledges the presence of darkness in his life. To expect that in our life with God we will never encounter darkness is naive and foolish. Darkness is the human condition made worse by pride and self-righteousness. (See Romans 1) The psalmist also acknowledges that fear accompanies darkness like a one-two punch.

But God . . . God is light. It is the very essence of who He is. He has control over light–and consequently, darkness. After all, He spoke light into existence. (See Genesis 1:3)

The beauty of light is that it doesn’t compete with darkness rather light banishes darkness. Darkness must flee when light comes. Although often considered opposites, light is so much more powerful than darkness.

That being said, it is important to remember that God is the original source of light. He brings light into me, His vessel, and fills me with it. His light in me represents the work of salvation in me and everyone who is born again. (See John 3:16-21) God entered the dark abyss of my God-less soul and banished the darkness that had been there by bringing the light of His presence. His light–His very essence–dwells within me.

For You cause my lamp to be lighted and to shine; The Lord my God illumines my darkness. Psalm 18:28.

Fear not, Beloved, God is your light and your salvation. He will not allow the darkness to overtake you. Stand fast.

Read Full Post »

Wait for and confidently expect the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for and confidently expect the Lord.
Psalm 27:14 (Amplified)

The Amplified version brings out some interesting nuances of this text. First of all, we see that it is not merely waiting that is required. Rather it is waiting for someone in particular, namely the Lord. Moreover, the waiting is not passive as one might wait for a bus or a train, but this is waiting with accompanying expectation–confident expectation in the Lord and what He will do. We can have this confident expectation because of the promises that God has made to us in His Word. Promises like . . . “I will never leave or forsake you,” “I provide a way of escape from temptation,” “I will deliver you,” “I’ll come back for you,” and many others. We are instructed by the psalmist to expect the Lord to do what He has promised to do as we wait for Him to do so.

We are told to “be strong.” The strength the psalmist has in mind is mental strength. This strength speaks of choice. We are to choose to believe God and His Word. We are to choose to allow the Spirit of God to reign in our hearts and minds. As the Spirit fills us, we will experience the resulting fruit of the Spirit, namely patience, long-suffering and self-control.

Once we choose to go God’s way, He will flood our hearts with courage–courage we know could never be our own. Once we are strengthened by this courage, we are able to wait. God is still and always in charge.

In this verse, the first phrase and the last phrase are the same; bookends that reinforce the beginning and the end of the matter–wait on the Lord. It’s worth repeating.

If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

34857624_201435477340473_855160484356161536_n

Read Full Post »

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Romans 12:1-2

In a previous blog post, (The Sacrifice), we discussed the first part of this section–the sacrifice. The second verse goes on to give further direction in terms of how to be that living sacrifice–“do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed.”

What would it look like to be conformed to this world? I think of the difference between a thermometer and a thermostat. A thermometer merely measures the temperature–in fact is conforms by either rising or contracting to reflect the temperature. It does nothing to change the temperature. In contract, the thermostat when reflecting the temperature is dropping, kicks the heater into gear. It impacts the temperature. That is what it means to not be conformed to the world–but rather to be a force for transformation.

How we should view the world is described in different parts of scripture. One helpful passage is 1 John 2:15-17 where we are told, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” For these and many other reasons found in scripture, we should not be conformed to the world.

This passage tells us some important facts about the world including what it consists of, namely “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” Also we learn that the world is passing away–it is temporary unlike God who “abides forever.”

How does one not be conformed by the world–it is all around us? James offers some suggestions: endure temptation (James 1:12), be doers of the word and not hearers only (James 1:22), seek wisdom from above (James 3:17), and do not be friends with the world (James 4:4). In Ephesians we are told to do all to stand in the battle. To that end, we are exhorted to put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). These are not the only means to the end of non-conformity to the world, but rather they are a starting point. The Bible is meant to be studied and read over and over until the Word of God penetrates our hearts and minds and we become restored to the image of God inside and out.

The renewing of our minds occurs when we live and breathe God and His Word. We see a picture of this renewed mind in Philippians 2:2-5, “[be] like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:2-5 Unity is evidence that our minds are being renewed. It is one way we “prove the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

You can find additional information and/or materials on our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

34857624_201435477340473_855160484356161536_n

Read Full Post »

1 Halleluyah!

How happy is anyone who fears Adonai, who greatly delights in his mitzvot.

2 His descendants will be powerful on earth, a blessed generation of upright people.
3 Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness stands forever.

4 To the upright he shines like a light in the dark, merciful, compassionate and righteous.
5 Things go well with the person who is merciful and lends, who conducts his affairs with fairness;
6 for he will never be moved. The righteous will be remembered forever.

7 He will not be frightened by bad news; he remains steady, trusting in Adonai.
8 His heart is set firm, he will not be afraid, till finally he looks in triumph at his enemies.
9 He distributes freely, he gives to the poor; his righteousness stands forever. His power will be increased honorably.
10 The wicked will be angry when they see this; they will gnash their teeth and waste away,
the desires of the wicked will come to nothing. Complete Jewish Bible

Sometimes I can imagine myself just resting in the words of a psalm, basking in the beauty of what the psalmist is describing. Psalm 112, starting with a wonderful Hallelujah, is a great hammock in which to swing under the shade of a well-watered, leafy tree near a spring in a place like En Gedi or Banias. As you swing back and forth in a steady rhythm and feel the breezes blow over, you can be reminded of all the good that comes to the man or woman who fears G-d and delights in his mitzvot or commands.

  • They will be powerful and they will come into their power in ways that are honorable;
  • They will be bless and righteous in their ways;
  • They will be wealthy and successful and fair;
  • They will be generous with what they acquire, helping those in need;
  • They will be an encouragement to the others who are upright;
  • The wicked will be greatly annoyed by them, but nothing will come of their hatred, plotting or scheming.

It is a beautiful picture–what a wonder this G-d of ours! He is good, good, good! His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

34857624_201435477340473_855160484356161536_n

Read Full Post »

If you wonder how to know God better or to just get an understanding of Him, the answer is in Proverbs 2:1-5:

1 My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, 2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding;
3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding,
4 If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.

It is not as hard as it sounds. First, we must understand who is speaking in this verse. Wisdom is speaking. Chapter 2 is a continuation of chapter 1 beginning in Proverbs 1:20 and continuing through to chapter 2.

With that in mind, the commands are as follows:

Receive words of wisdom
Treasure commands of wisdom
Incline your ear to wisdom
Apply your heart to wisdom
Seek wisdom like you would search for silver and hidden treasure

Receive speaks of openness. We must have an openness to wisdom. Receive also speaks of an action on our part, e.g. allowing entry. In other words, we must allow wisdom to enter our thinking, we must not block it or reject it. We must accept it. It doesn’t sound like much, but many in our day and throughout human history have rejected wisdom because of the little it required of them–acceptance. The heart of mankind is wicked. It seeks its own–it seeks to be first, but it doesn’t always seek to earn that position.

To accept the wisdom of God, I must let go of my own wisdom, my own thinking, my own self-reliance. To receive, I must have, in the modern vernacular, available storage space for the new information.

Once I receive the wisdom of God, I must learn to treasure it. I must not put it aside like so much well-intentioned fruitcake received at Christmas from a beloved relative only to be tossed out several months later uneaten. To treasure means to value, to consider of great worth. It is the answer to the question, “What do you take with you when your home is burning and you only have a few minutes to get out? To treasure is to carry near to your heart, like a newborn child. In treasuring the wisdom of God, I must value what God says. I must consider of great worth that which God says is of great worth. I must not accept cheap substitutes for the treasures of God’s kingdom.

Incline your ear suggests being attentive. I must choose to put aside distractions, things or people that beckon me to listen–instead I must listen for the voice of God, for what He is saying to me, the wisdom He is imparting to me.

Apply your heart suggests diligence. I must be intentional in my desire to learn the wisdom of God. It’s not a passive activity. I will not absorb the wisdom of God by osmosis or pew sitting or outreach attendance or even by Bible reading alone. I must choose and pursue. I must study to show myself approved. I must be a Berean, receiving the wisdom of God with readiness and searching the scriptures to see if things are true. I must lay aside every weight and snare that may slow me down.

Seeking wisdom like one would seek for silver or hidden treasure paints a vivid picture. If I knew silver or hidden treasure lay ahead on the path, would I amble by casually looking around? No! I would be searching, pushing back bushes, looking under rocks, digging in loose ground, evaluating clues and signs. I would be motivated. That is how I should seek after the wisdom of God.

This discussion is not intended to add any burden, but to remind you. After all, God has promised that those who seek Him diligently, will find Him.

 

Read Full Post »

Know that I AM God

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

           –Psalm 46:10

This familiar verse continues to yield helpful insight about God. It contains a 2-part command and two-fold promise.

Be still and know that I am God is a command. The phrase be still can be understood desist from or stop what you are doing. The command know that I am God can be understood also as a command to recognize I am God. To say it another way, give me the authority and reverence due to me. Know could also be translated understand. To understand that He is God is to know His character, His track record, all that He has done and thereby know that He is sovereign over all things–there is no other God. The LORD our God is one–the only one.

It bears noting I AM, may have been the tetragrammaton, the four-letter Hebrew name for God, Y-H-W-H. This name for God was used by God when Moses asked what name he should use in telling the Israelites about God. It emphasizes His self-existence, that He has no beginning or end which would also contribute to our understanding of His sovereignty.

The next two phrases are promises. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth! Take it to the bank. God will be exalted among the nations, in the earth if He isn’t already. This again speaks of God’s sovereignty over the whole earth–over everything and everyone.

Know God.

IMG_0529

Read Full Post »

The Fragrance of Messiah

In 2 Corinthians 2:14-17(CJB), Paul says the following: thanks be to God, who in the Messiah constantly leads us in a triumphal procession and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of what it means to know him! For to God we are the aroma of the Messiah, both among those being saved and among those being lost; to the latter, we are the smell of death leading only to more death; but to the former, we are the sweet smell of life leading to more life. Who is equal to such a task? For we are not like a lot of folks who go about huckstering God’s message for a fee; on the contrary, we speak out of a sincere heart, as people sent by God, standing in God’s presence, living in union with the Messiah.

So according to Paul, we (the believers) spread the knowledge of Christ (but not without some pomp and circumstance–he says we are part of a triumphal procession led by Jesus. As this procession moves, it spread the fragrance of Christ–the Promised One.

Let’s stop for a moment to unpack the idea of the Fragrance of the Promised One. Isn’t it the fragrance of hope–hope of an eternal future with God made possible by the shed blood of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead.

If hope had a fragrance, perhaps it would smell like us as we proceed through life leaving in our wake the fragrance of the One who knew no sin and became sin for us–the fragrance of a perfect offering.

According to the apostle John, in 1 John 2:2 (AMP), He [that same Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins [the atoning sacrifice that holds back the wrath of God that would otherwise be directed at us because of our sinful nature—our worldliness, our lifestyle]; and not for ours alone, but also for [the sins of all believers throughout] the whole world.

As the atoning sacrifice for us, Jesus’ is the fulfillment of the law. He is the ultimate offering. What is it that God so enjoys about the offering? We’re told many times. The offerings are “a sweet aroma to the LORD.” And so too was Jesus’ sacrifice a sweet aroma unto God. His sacrifice made the way for many to have relationship with God. His sacrifice atoned for the sin of the whole world. Hallelujah! What at Savior! Sweet is His perfume!

And as we allow Him to fill us with His Spirit and to sanctify our lives, we take on His fragrance–the aroma of death to self–the sweet aroma that is so pleasing to God.

IMG_0580

Read Full Post »

Coming upon the story of David and Goliath in our study of 1 and 2nd Samuel, I was reminded of my recent visit to Tel Azeka in Israel.

Tel Azeka gives us a vantage point over the valley of Ela (Elah), the area where the story of 1 Samuel 17 took place. Looking west from the Tel, we can see where the three coastal cities of the Philistines would have been, Ashkelon (to the Southwest), Gath (the inland Capital), and Ashdod (to the Northwest).

The Philistines wanted the mountains in the area surrounding Tel Azeka because they wanted oil–olive oil. The pictures give you a glimpse of the fertile land on the low hills in this area.

P1040434

View of Valley of Ela from Tel Azeka

P1040437

View of Valley of Ela from Tel Azeka

P1040435

View from Tel Azeka

From the photos above, you can view the valley of Ela (Elah) where the armies of Israel met the armies of the Philistines. The open area between the hills is where the armies were faced off.

Being on that Tel, it wasn’t hard to imagine the scene that day. It was probably sunny and bright as it was the day we visited. David would have traveled down from Bethlehem to bring supplies and to get news for his father.

The story opens . . .

Now the Philistines gathered their armies for battle and were assembled at Socoh, which belongs to Judah; and they camped between Socoh and Azekah, in Ephes-dammim. Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together and they camped in the Valley of Elah, and assembled in battle formation to meet the Philistines. The Philistines were standing on the mountain on one side and Israel was standing on the mountain on the other side, with the valley between them.  I Samuel 17:1-3.

The rest is, as they say, history.

If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

34857624_201435477340473_855160484356161536_n

Read Full Post »

Outside of Jerusalem as you travel east, you will find Wadi Qelt. A wadi is a common feature in Israel. It is a ravine or stream bed that dries up until the raining season when it may become a rushing river or a generous stream depending on the rainfall, the run-off and the ravine itself. Wadi Qelt is such a ravine that originates near Jerusalem and extends to the Jordan River near Jericho.

Some have suggested that David may have been thinking of such a ravine when he wrote Psalm 23:4 (CJB), Even if I pass through death-dark ravines, I will fear no disaster; for you are with me; your rod and staff reassure me.

This very familiar verse reminded me of God’s guidance and correction in my life and how they prove His love for me. Moreover, my love and acceptance of God’s correction speaks of His imprint on me. In that I can see that He has brought me to this point of sanctification. I also know that He will continue to sanctify me until I am made perfect when I see Him face to face.

P1010361

Wadi Qelt

P1010354

Wadi Qelt

P1010355

Wadi Qelt

IMG_4012

Wadi Qelt

If you are looking for additional information and/or materials, please visit our website at RootedinHisWord.org and our Facebook page. 

34857624_201435477340473_855160484356161536_n

Read Full Post »

I don’t know about you, but in this time of great confusion and conflicting views of the important truths of our day, I find the need to seek the truth that transcends–the truth of God. Wisdom is distilled into pithy, bite-size morsels in the Book of Proverbs. As usual, it keeps its promise to provide guidance for life.

My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Proverbs 4:20

In Proverbs 4:20, we receive the imperative, “Give attention to my words.” The Hebrew writing style is evident here, namely the second part of the couplet is a reiteration of the first, “incline your ear to my sayings.” The repeat of the information is an emphasis–as if the author is saying, “hey, this is important, so I’m going to repeat myself.”

If we are looking for wisdom, we need to listen to God. We need to listen to His Word. This will be the only way to survive the pandemic without losing hope or faith or our witness.

But even more than an admonition to listen, God is asking for intentionality and diligence in our approach to our relationship with Him. He is asking us to apply ourselves to the systematic study of His word.

Consider the exhortation of Paul to Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

In order for us to “rightly divide the word of truth,” we must know all of it. We must know the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) as well as the New Testament. We must know the Torah (first 5 books of the Old Testament) as well as the Prophets. We must know the history of both the Jews and the church.

If we are to rightly divide the word of truth, we must understand its nuance, its context, its geography, its characters. We must exert some energy–get outside of our comfort zone.

It is not a once-a-week passive attention to a sermon. It is not working through a book written about the Bible–it is reading and studying the Bible for yourself. We must let God speak to us. We must meet day by day with the Creator and Author.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »