Bible Study

Read Your Bible More and More – Desiring God

Read Your Bible More and More – Desiring God.

I love the first two reasons Piper gives as to why reading the Bible everyday (whether one feels like it or not) is not legalism.

  1. You are confessing your lack of desire as sin, and pleading as a helpless child for the desire you long to have. Legalists don’t cry like that. They strut.
  2. You are reading out of desperation for the effects of this heavenly medicine. Bible-reading is not a cure for a bad conscience; it’s chemo for your cancer. Legalists feel better because the box is checked. Saints feel better when their blindness lifts, and they see Jesus in the word. Let’s get real. We are desperately sick with worldliness, and only the Holy Spirit, by the word of God, can cure this terminal disease.

I actually founds this as I searched DG for “daily Bible reading” to see what Piper or some other might have to say to “stir me up” and rekindle my fire for reading the Word before breakfast each day. Why do I go to DG? Because a true friend tells you what you need to hear instead of what you want to hear, and I can often count on the folks at DG for that, and Piper is simply the most motivating advocate of daily reading of the Word in personal and/or corporate devotions, but especially the former.

Let us continue the race of faith, slowly and steadily, always quick to listen and slow to speak, humbly and boldly.

via Read Your Bible More and More – Desiring God.

Psalm 50: God Shines Forth

              The Mighty One, God the Lord,

       speaks and summons the earth

        from the rising of the sun to its setting.

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,

       God shines forth.

(Psalm 50:1-2 ESV)

© 2013 Clint R. Boyd.

© 2013 Clint R. Boyd.

God “speaks and summons the earth.” Right off the bat, The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons. He is the boss, but what kind of boss is he?

Well, we get a picture — of the sunrise and sunset. The Psalmist is saying that this speaking and summoning is done from dusk ’till dawn, but with the words sunrise and sunset comes a memory of a splendid sight for those who’ve seen the sun rise and/or set. For any who haven’t had working eyesight to see a sunrise or sunset, this must be calling upon the one of the greatest faculties of the human mind: imagination.

Either way, clearly we are invited to get a greater understanding God by mentioning him directly after the sun’s radiant rising and setting:

“God shines forth.”

He is not a gloomy God. This is not Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The Lord Almighty is righteous, Holy, and just, always loving and using honest weights and scales (Proverbs 16:11). He is not an oppressor. He is the Great Giver. That’s why He doesn’t need anything from us, nor can we provide much for him past adoration, worship, trust, and thanksgiving.

“I will not accept a bull from your house

or goats from your folds.

For every beast of the forest is mine,

       the cattle on a thousand hills.

I know all the birds of the hills,

       and all that moves in the field is mine.

If I were hungry, I would not tell you,

       for the world and its fullness are mine.

Do I eat the flesh of bulls

       or drink the blood of goats?

Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,

       and perform your vows to the Most High,

and call upon me in the day of trouble;

       I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

(Verses 9-15)

Thankfulness is how I should feel and be toward God. You and I were created to glorify and ENJOY Him — to bask His radiance, mercy, and forgiveness — forever. All of that is made possible, of course, by Jesus Christ, who was slain for that purpose, then resurrected: the greatest news in the history of mankind.

Future Glory and Forgetting the Past

This morning I read in Genesis the forty-first chapter and noticed something new to me: Joseph forgets his past suffering, because God has blessed him so greatly. Are we all capable of receiving such blessing that we might be able forget all of the past pain?

Here are the verses in which I learned about Joseph forgetting the old misfortunes:

Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Genesis 41:50-52, ESV)

How beautiful it is that God did not only make Joseph fruitful and happy, but God did so for Joseph in the same place Joseph was in during his worst period of suffering.  Moreover, it was so good that Joseph forgot about the slavery he was in before the sunshine came.

The apostle Paul adds insight here:

“For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18, ESV, emphasis added)

By the way, if you haven’t read The Weight of Glory, by C.S. Lewis, the book is well worth the time and money.

Lewis writes therein, “At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”

Paul adds again, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18, ESV)

One day, God will right all the wrongs and bless you who would be in Christ out of this world and into a far, far better one that is unimaginably fantastic, yet — real.  That is not to say this one is to be tossed out and forgotten just yet.  Uncertain as we are as to how long it shall take us to get to the next world, it is our duty to make this one as much like the next as possible.

Daily Bible Reading – Quick Snapshots

Working to discipline myself in reading and writing (regularly), I aim to share periodically, small gems (and questions, etc.) as I read through the Bible. [Edit: though this has turned out to be mere notes, in some cases, and simple ones, at that.]  This is only my second time reading all the way through the Bible, and I am using the ESV Daily Bible Reading Plan. I have grown up in the Bible belt and heard more sermons and Bible classes than I can count, but reading the Word in personal study is quite different. I prefer a reading plan, because if I don’t have one, I just piddle around, nibbling but never getting to the feast. I prefer the ESV plan because I like having a day’s reading split up between different areas in the Bible, so as to hopefully get a fuller picture of everything, each day.

Here is the thing about daily bible reading plans: most of them are set up to get the reading through the Bible in one year, but one can read at any pace. Better to start and keep trekking through at any pace than to never read the Scripture at all. If you miss a day, and you will, fine. Two days, fine. Don’t worry about the yearly deadline. Just read.

Enough introduction. Nuggets, questions, and thoughts from this morning’s passages.

Pentateuch and History of Israel – (Gen. 9:20-10:32): After the Flood and Rainbow Covenant

  • First, isn’t it funny that, given all of the so-called “gay marriage” debates in the last year, to rediscover that the rainbow was actually a symbol not only created by God, but one with specific meaning?  See Genesis 9:8-17.
  • The whole earth had to disperse from Noah’s three sons, Ham, Shem, and Japeth, after the flood. I haven’t thought about that in a while. (9:19)
  • Nakedness is a big deal. That is actually easy to forget in modern American culture. Not because we run around nude all the time, but pretty close, some of us. Ham accidentally (it seems) saw his father naked and had his own lineage cursed as a consequence. This just shows how far we’ve gone in desensitizing our nation (especially in the last 20 years, I am sure). I’ve witnessed it; does that mean I’m getting old?
  • The sons after Ham, Shem, and Japeth are those who would have their languages split and scattered at the Tower of Babel(10:5)
  • Nimrod is Noah’s great grandson, and was the “first mighty man” (10:8). This is strange to me because I grew up only knowing this name as an informal, slang insult.

Chronicles and Prophets – (1 Chron. 8): Genealogy of Saul

Although there are tidbits of story (besides lineage) in Chronicles, verses 6, 8, 10, and so on) , nothing of the lightbulb-sort came on as I read today. *Now, I would love to dig deeper and research some of the statements/discoveries for us there, but that is a different blog entry all together.

Psalms and Wisdom Literature: Psalm 9

  • God is the one who maintains David’s just cause, not David. This tells us that David knew that it wasn’t up to himself to maintain the kingdom, but the Lord. Now, David certainly has responsibility to act, think, and do, but ultimately anything that succeeds does so because the Lord maintained it.  (Verse 4)
  • David wants to be saved, why? To recount praises of God and rejoice in the salvation God gives. This seems to David as much about God as his own life. (14)
  • Verse 18: “For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.”

Gospels and Epistles – (Luke 6:17-49): Sermon on the Plain

This passage really deserves either its own blog entry, or even a blog totally dedicated to it. Nevertheless, quick clips and takeaways from it today include the following:

  • Jesus stands on ground-level with his audience. Preachers in raised pulpits ought to tremble every time they go to speak. (17) That is what makes this the sermon “on the plain” rather than it’s more famous sibling, Sermon on the Mount. Such is my new discovery for myself, today.

Instead of rambling on about that and trying to unpack the whole passage, I am going to summarize key points and sections (that most everyone knows, but we always need review).

  • 20-22: Beatitudes–rejoice, blessed sufferer. This reminds me of an interview I watched of John Piper interviewing Rick Warren. Of course because Piper is hyper-Calvinist (in every sense of the term), God’s election of souls saved is brought up, and along such lines Warren says (and I’m paraphrasing) Do I believe God has favorites? Absolutely. I think God favors the poor.
  • 24-26, Woe to the rich and well spoken-of: if everyone speaks well of you, that’s probably because you aren’t being completely honest with them.
  • 30: Give to everyone who begs of you. (Really…everyone?) Shane Claiborne asks, “What if Jesus meant what He said?” here. This is getting into the kind of “radical” love Jesus should be and is known for, which Martin Luther King Jr., in his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” even calls “extremist,”  in a most positive sense. Consider the non-violent, literal interpretation King synthesized in the Civil Rights protests. See verses 27-36.
  • 31: Golden rule.
  • 35: Give without expecting return, as God does.
  • 37-42: Judge not. Log/speck parable.
  • 45: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Such is why Proverbs 4:23 cautions the reader to guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Piper says “you are what you behold,” finding that in 2 Corinthians 3:18, where we learn that we are being transformed form one level of glory to the next as we behold the glory of the Lord. So, we should be careful what we “behold” on the internet, television, in books, and movies…
  • 45: Good people produce good fruit, and bad people produce, well,  bad fruit. How’s yours?
  • 46-49: Build your house on the rock of Jesus by obeying Him.
  • 46: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?”