September 30- My Bible

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

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September 30 - My Bible

"Nobody ever outgrows Scripture; the book widens and deepens with our years." -- Charles H. Spurgeon

I still carry the flyleaf from the first Bible that really ever meant anything to me. In it I had written, "Found Christ. April 25-28!" That was in 1974. It had been an amazing weekend - they were called "Lay Witness Missions" and a group of people came from all over Iowa to spend the weekend in our church, witnessing to the power of God in their lives. Saturday evening was an altar call and I knew without a doubt, that I needed to be on my knees at that altar.

I had always been a Christian, but that weekend cemented for me the fact that I needed to be fully engaged in this relationship with Christ. It was personal now - between Him and me. I could no longer count on my parents to simply teach me about Jesus, I needed to figure it out on my own. I took responsibility that day for my eternal life.

My first Bible was a paraphrase -"The Living Bible." I had it so well underlined and highlighted, every single book in that Bible impacted my life in some way. A few years later, I realized it was time to grow up and away from the paraphrase. The New International Version was still pretty young and I was intrigued by the difference between it and my paraphrase and between it and the other common Bible of the time, the King James version. I had to have it. My first NIV Bible soon became just as well-marked and oft-read as my paraphrase.

Several years later, my mother gave me the Bible that I carry now. It's still NIV, but I love it - it's the Thompson Chain Reference Bible and it has given me more helps through the years than I can begin to enumerate. It has been well-marked and I've even had it re-bound. I would feel lost without it. When someone asks me a question regarding scripture, I know that I can find anything in 'my' Bible.

Part of that has to do with the fact that I have a bit of a photographic memory and things that I 'live in' for a long time tend to stay close to my memory. Part of it has to do with the fact that I can generally get close, but my marks in this Bible will take me directly to what I'm looking for. I've probably looked for it before.

My relationship with the Word of God was exciting and wild and passionate when I started using The Living Bible in the 70s. We could hardly wait for youth group and Sunday School class so that we could open our Bibles and learn. There were a bunch of us that shared that passion and it was fun doing it together. As I grew older, my depth of understanding of scripture also grew. The more I learned, the more I was able to understand what God wanted me to see in His Word.

By this point, I think that I finally get it. I will never be able to understand everything, but I will always be able to meet the Lord within these pages. Always. When He feels far from me because my life has gotten out of whack, I know where to find Him. I open up my Bible and begin to read and I realize that He has never left me.

The Bible grows with us as we grow in our understanding of it. Whether you are on your very first Bible, or have experimented through the years with different versions, or use a new one on a regular basis, the Word remains the same. If it's been awhile since you went looking for God in the pages of your Bible, open it up and begin to read.

September 29 - Teachers of the Word

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

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September 29 - Teachers of the Word

You know, there are several different types of Biblical teachers out there. I'm not terribly sure where I fit in that. There are those who teach with great authority and are confident that they have spent enough time with God and in scripture. They are humble, yet quite knowledgeable. I can appreciate that teacher. Then, there are those who have had a lot of education and are rather arrogant about the fact that they can talk most people to death regarding their knowledge. Then, those that have read the Bible over and over, yet have never had deeper education or read a commentary, all they have is their own understanding. Those teachers can be amazing because they completely rely on the Holy Spirit to teach through them ... OR they can be incredibly awful because they think they have enough wisdom on their own to understand the mysteries of God.

I've studied under all of them and more. I'm sure that you have been exposed to as many different types of Bible teachers as there are people.

Jesus tells us as part of the Great Commission that we are all to be teachers of the Word in Matthew 28:19-20. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and or the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you."

So, if you decide to try to duck out on this because Paul makes the requirements for a teacher too stringent, you'd best decide who to obey - Jesus or your fears!

In Paul's first letter to Timothy, he says, "Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach..." (1 Timothy 3:12)

We have a responsibility to the world. The project I just finished for my World religions course taught me that Buddhism has become the 3rd strongest religion in the United States. People in America are drawn to it because it teaches compassion, tolerance and rationality and because it offers an alternative to what they perceive to be rigidity among Christians.

We are failing in our mission. We would rather be 'right' and prove it over and over than we would be compassionate and caring. We would rather fight for our viewpoint, than simply teach the love of Christ. I would bet that many of us have no idea what the Bible actually says about many different issues. How can we be expected to teach something that we don't fully understand?

We have a responsibility to the world. Jesus gave us a commission. It's not a suggestion, He doesn't hope that we'll do something about it. We are to take His message into the world. We are to share His gospel with everyone we see.

October 09 Blog - 31 Psalms

Monday, September 28, 2009

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I began writing this blog a year ago on October 1st. I wasn't sure if I could keep this up on a daily basis, yet have found it to be an amazing opportunity for study and reflection.

Last October I chose 31 of my favorite Psalms to look at and write about. I will look at another 31 Psalms this October.

I'm thrilled that so many of you continue to read along with me.

If you know someone who would enjoy this, please invite them to join me. Give them my email address (nammynools (@) cox (.) net) and I will get them on the daily email list. Otherwise, they can check out the blog online.

If you find that you are receiving too much email from me, please don't hesitate to ask me to remove you from the list. I take no offense, life happens too quickly these days and emails can have a tendency to drown us.

September 28 - Divine Revelations

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September 28 - Divine Revelations

Think about it for a moment. We have a relationship with the Creator of the Universe. He has chosen to reveal mysteries to us through His Word and our Bibles spend more time on the shelves than they do open in front of us. It seems utterly insane, doesn't it!

Daniel 2:22, "He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness and light dwells with him.

Amos 3:7, "Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets."

God is more than willing to reveal His mysteries to us, if we would simply spend time learning from Him. I was reading "The Case for a Creator" by Lee Strobel and he made the statement that one of the reasons for the immensity of the universe and the depth of things that we know nothing about is that God also gave us curiosity. If we could easily figure everything out, there would be no need for learning. He gave us amazing things to learn about so that throughout generations of time, people would always have something to search for, always have something to learn.

But, He will reveal it to us!

And He will reveal His great love for us.

John 15:15, "I no longer call you servants because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you."

1 Corinthians 2:9-10, "However as it is written: 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him, but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God."

Ephesians 1:9-10, "And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment - to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ."

Do you notice how God's revelations are made to us through the Spirit and through Jesus. He has revealed Himself and how He works among us, He has revealed His will to us, He has revealed the depths of His love for us.

September 27 - The Gospel is Universal

Sunday, September 27, 2009

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September 27 - The Gospel is Universal

I have a couple of friends that chose to leave their lives in the United States and live in Tibet as missionaries. They live very simple lives among the people in the Tibetan mountains, always being very careful of their interactions so that their lives show Jesus Christ as much as their words. And they have to be careful of their words because of the oppressiveness of the government. When they send emails home, they have to speak of 'Father' instead of God.

But God promises that His Word will be preached throughout the world.

Matthew 24:14, "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

When I asked my friends why they had chosen to go to Tibet, they reminded me of that verse. You see, they want to be a part of the movement towards the end of the world. They look so forward to the Lord returning that they want to do all that they can to ensure the Gospel is preached to the ends of the earth.

Mark 13:10, "And the gospel must first be preached to all nations."

This was the last thing Jesus commanded us to do. I've talked in the past about my fears that God would ask me to become a missionary to Africa. However, I figured that He could just use me in the United States ... that's a nation, right?

Matthew 28:19, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Mark 16:15, "He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.'"

But, before Jesus returns to heaven, he says to the disciples in Acts 1:8, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

So, if God had actually called me to go to Africa, I should have set aside my fears because He wouldn't have asked me to go alone. He promised that the power of the Holy Spirit would be with me. I tend to forget that - a lot!

The last verse that talks about this is found in Revelation 14:6. What an amazing image this is!

"Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth - to every nation, tribe, language and people."

Even at the end, the Good News - the Gospel of Jesus Christ is going to be proclaimed to everyone on earth. God never quits trying to draw His creation back to Himself.

September 26 - Words of Christ Remembered

Saturday, September 26, 2009

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September 26 - Words of Christ Remembered

What does it take for you to remember Jesus' words? Do they come into your mind when you are stressed or fearful? Maybe they are just so ingrained in your mind, that like the words to a song you know well, they show up simply because you are thinking about a particular subject.

What about the words your parents spoke to you as a child? Oh my goodness, I still hear my mother's voice in my head sometimes. There were a lot of words spoken to me when I was learning how to drive and I still hear her directing me down the road. I remember things she said to me as she not so patiently was trying to get me to act like an adult, not a spoiled child. Since she died in 1987, I only have memories that help me be the person she was trying to raise.

I discovered a cassette tape several years ago of her delivering a sermon on a Sunday morning in the 1970s. Max transcribed it to a digital format and it was strange to hear her voice again. I'd forgotten exactly what it sounded like. But, it did reinforce the memories of things she said to me.

After the Resurrection, the women were heading to the tomb with spices they had prepared. They weren't prepared, however to find the tomb empty or angels there telling them to "Remember ..." (Luke 24:6b)

But, finally "...they remembered his words." (Luke 24:8)

In John 2, the Jews had just watched Jesus clear the Temple and then he told them "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." (John 2:19) They didn't understand at the time, but John tells us that the temple he spoke of was his body. In John 2:22, John says, "After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken."

In fact, John lets us in on the secret that the disciples actually figured out a lot of things after Jesus had died.

John 12:16 tells us (following the triumphal entry on the donkey into Jerusalem), "At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and they had done these things to him."

Jesus promises the Holy Spirit in John 14 and tells his disciples, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26)

Then, in John 16:4, Jesus says again, "I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you."

In Peter's second letter, he asks his readers to remember his words as well as the prophets of old and those of Jesus. "Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles."

It is not enough to simply hear or read the words that Jesus spoke. We must remember them.

September 25 - Keeping the Words of Christ

Friday, September 25, 2009

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September 25 - Keeping the Words of Christ

When I was young and just beginning to learn about the Bible and all that it contained, I remember seeing my first red-letter Bible (where the words of Christ are printed in red ink). I didn't get it. Oh, I fully understood that Jesus was the Son of God and the importance of His sacrifice for my sins, but I couldn't understand how His words were deemed so important that they would be highlighted in the Bible. To me, the entire Bible was important. God had given us every bit of that book, including Jesus and His words.

In many ways, I still feel that way, but at the same time, I think I finally get it. When God came to earth in the form of man, the words that were spoken to us came directly from His mouth. My Bible is now a red-letter Bible and I treasure those words. Even though highlighting them always ends up giving me a weird color!

There are actually some promises within scripture for those that keep the words of Christ. I'm just going to share them with you again today. That's all the explanation necessary.

We are promised:

Eternal Life
John 8:51. I tell you the truth, if a man keeps my word, he will never see death.

The Abiding Counselor
John 14:15-16. If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever."

Divine Fellowship
John 14:23. Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."

Divine Disclosure
John 17:6. I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.

Assurance
1 John 2:3. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.

Access to God.
Revelation 3:8. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

September 24 - The Words of Christ

Thursday, September 24, 2009

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September 24 - The Words of Christ are ...

For today's study, I'm just going to share scripture. I think this says it all. (This is taken straight from the Thompson Chain Reference Bible, #3885)

Christ's Words are:

Imperishable.
Mark 13:31. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

Gracious
Luke 4:22. All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked.

Authoritative
Luke 4:32. They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority.

Spiritual
John 6:63. The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.

Life-Giving
John 6:68. Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."

Incomparable
John 7:46. "No one ever spoke the way this man does," the guards declared.

Words of Judgment
John 12:48. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day.

Divine
John 14:24. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

How have the words of Jesus impacted you?

September 23 - Impartiality of Scripture

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

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September 23 - Impartiality of Scripture

"The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you." (Exodus 12:49)

That same information is repeated in Leviticus 24:22, Numbers 9:14 and Numbers 15:16.

I find this really interesting. If you were a Gentile living among the Jews and wished to participate in the Passover ceremony, you had to observe the same laws of cleanliness and purification that the Jews did. At the same time, if you were an alien living among the Israelites, you received the same benefits as they did.

God simply did not play favorites, everyone was treated the same.
By the time we get to the New Testament, we find Paul explaining in Galatians 3:28 that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." He goes on in verse 29, "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

The personalities of my classmates in the comparative religions course I'm taking right now is fascinating. A few are very strong Christians, and rather judgmental. ONe announced at the beginning of the course that she was going to be presenting a lot of scripture to counteract the information we were learning about Eastern Religions.

Then there are others who are so obviously in the middle of searching for the truth, they have no idea where to land. As each week passed and we began learning about another religion, one of them would begin discussing how they wanted to implement some of the things they were learning into their search for truth. They were all over the place.

But, I'll be honest, The person I had the most difficulty with was the woman who insisted that in our discussions of these various religions, we had to hear how Jesus was the Son of God and the only true way. Now, I fully agree, but she spent more time stating that simple fact than she did studying the information she was given. Let me tell you, after the first couple of times she challenged my belief structure, I was just done. There are some things that aren't worth arguing about any longer.

But, see, she doesn't get it. She doesn't understand that by learinng about these religions, she will be better equipped to speak with someone who is questioning them or is interested in them. Because God doesn't care who it is that comes into His kingdom. He is prepared for everyone to be there!

The Law ... the Scriptures are not simply a tool for Christians. God stated quite clearly from the very beginning that thi sis for everyone.

My question tonight is ... who do you need to share God's word with tomorrow?

September 22 - Despised

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

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September 22 - Despised

2 Chronicles 36:16, "But they mocked God's messengers, despised his words and scoffed at his prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy."

As passionate as I am about the Word of God, I find that there are many who not only don't read it, but think it isn't worth the paper that it is written on. There are even Biblical scholars who come so close to heresy, I fear for them, as they create conflict regarding these words.

The Jesus Seminar couches their agenda with talk that they are promoting Biblical Literacy, but they are arrogant enough to believe that they can vote on whether or not the words of Jesus that we find in our scriptures should actually be there.

Hosea says, "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children." (Hosea 4:6)

In Amos 2:4, we read, "This is what the Lord says: "For every three sins of Judah, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. Because they have rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept his decrees, because they have been led astray by false gods, the gods their ancestors followed."

And in Mark 7:9, Jesus says, "You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions."

Over and over again, we read of the importance of these words that fill our Bibles. We aren't to simply set our Bibles on a coffee table or in shelf. The bindings should be regularly replaced because they are broken and destroyed by our use. Our hearts should be found in every book of this Bible.

Learn to love the scriptures, to fill your minds and your hearts with the words that come forth. Never allow yourself to ignore or set aside God's Words. Spend time with the Creator of the Universe. Spend time in His Word. Let no one ever accuse you of despising the Law of the Lord.

September 21 - In the Heart

Monday, September 21, 2009

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September 21 - In the Heart

Psalm 37:31, "The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip."

A few weeks ago, we had some guys come out to the cabin to check out our septic system. I don't know that anyone had done anything to it since it had been installed in 1979. It's not used all that often, but problems had crept up and it was time. Well, after a lot of searching for the tanks and a backhoe to uncover them, they were opened. The smell was horrific!

For some reason, the guys wanted me to see inside the tanks. I still have no idea why, but they were at the bottom of a small hill, down from the entry lane to the cabin. It was a little wet, rain was coming down off and on and all I had on my feet were a pair of flip flops. The walk down the hill was tentative to say the least and all of a sudden one of the guys realized what he had asked me to do, because he finally put his hand out just in case I decided to slip down that hill. If I had, there would have been nothing to stop me from plunking right down into the filth of the tank.

I'm here to tell you that I kept a firm grip on the ground as I made my way down that incline. I did not want to slip.

Just like the hand that reached out to me to give me assurance as I made my way down a treacherous hill, is the Word of God.

"I desire to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart." Psalm 40:8

"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the Lord. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people." Jeremiah 31:33

"For in my inner being, I delight in God's law ..." Romans 7:22

"You know that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts." 2 Corinthians 3:3

This is a gift we have been given. His law has been placed on our hearts. The Word of God is already there. In Psalm 42:7, the Psalmist says "Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls."

I find that as I spend time reading the Word of God, it fills my heart. I believe that it is calling out to that which God placed within me before I was created.

September 20 - Commanded to Keep the Word

Sunday, September 20, 2009

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September 20 - Commanded to Keep the Word of the Lord

Deuteronomy 17:19, "It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees..."

Ok, I promise that I didn't intend to spend the entire month of September lecturing on how important it is for us to spend time in the Bible. It certainly seems as if that is the point of all of this, though.

The thing is, as much as we might have heard from pastors and Bible teachers that it is important, the Bible tells us over and over again that we need to be firmly grounded in the Word of God so that the things of this world can't sway us when we are attacked!

Alright, I've been telling you that I am in the middle of a Comparative Religions course and that we are studying the Eastern religions right now. It has been a real comfort to me every evening to open my Bible and know that I am going to be teaching and writing from a book that simply presents ... TRUTH.

Buddhism's basic premise is that suffering is caused by mankind's desires. We need to eliminate suffering in our lives and the only way to do that is to eliminate our desires. So, they spend their entire lives eliminating the source of desires so that they can finally achieve nirvana ... or nothingness. The Buddha's teachings all revolve around how to get to that point. And remember, the Buddha was never a god, simply a man who found enlightenment.

Now how does that translate into a life of goodness and grace? Oh, it doesn't ... at all.

In Joshua's farewell message to the Israelites, he says, "Be very strong; be careful to obey all that is written in the Book fo the Law of Moses, without turning aside to the right or the left." (Joshua 23:6)

We are given the Word of God so that we can live by a law that is greater than ourselves. God has given us these Words to keep us on the straight and narrow ... the path that leads to righteousness, that leads to holiness.

This book contains the Words of God, given to us so that we can understand our history, so that we can know how God will be with us in our future and so that we can be assured of a place in His eternal kingdom.

How do we respond? We learn these words so that we can be assured of their truth no matter where we are or what we are doing!

September 19 - Perfection of the Divine

Saturday, September 19, 2009

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September 19 - Perfection of the Divine

"The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple." (Psalm 19:7)

I guarantee that if you spend any time studying scripture in an academic setting, you will face down contentions that the Bible is flawed, that there are errors within its pages and that throughout the years, scribes and copyists, even the original authors made errors that have come down to us.

Ok. Fine.

I take exception with nearly all of that, but my arguments will never work on an academic level because unless you believe that God is the author and perfector of all things, you can never understand His divine influence over His Word, the Bible that we love.

You see, I fully believe that God is living and active in this world and has been since the day He called it into creation. If He was uninterested in us or apathetic about His creation, then we have an entirely different set of problems.

But, the Bible tells us that He is not either uninterested or apathetic, or for that matter, dead. God is alive and actively works in this world to draw His people into relationship with Him. His one single avenue that will never change is the Bible.

Now, why would He allow His scriptures to disintegrate due to poor handling by scribes and copyists throughout the years? Do we not believe that He has the power to force corrections and changes?

When the original King James version was created, there were quite a few translation errors, but over the years these were fixed. And, over the years, more and more fragments of the Bible have been found that take us closer to the original dates of publication. These generally confirm the authenticity of what we hold in our hands. In fact, throughout the 20th century, archeological digs have also confirmed the authenticity of many of the events that were questioned.

God's Word is always being proven to be truth.

When you read the Bible, be convinced that God has been very active in not only sending His word to the men who wrote it down, but also with those who were commissioned with pulling the canon (the order of the books, the choices of which books to incorporate, etc.) of the Bible together. He did not quit working to perfect the Bible when the last book was written. God continues to work to this day to ensure that we have a perfect representation of His Words in our hearts. His goal is to bring us closer to Him. His Word is there for us to read as we reach back out to Him.

September 18 - Deliver the Message!

Friday, September 18, 2009

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September 18 - Contains the Message to be Delivered

Jeremiah 1:7, "But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a child.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them for I am with you and will rescue you."

I'm sure I've told you before, but I used to pray and pray and PRAY when I was in high school that God wouldn't choose to send me to Africa as a missionary. It scared me to death that He would think that was a good idea and put it on my heart to go and I wouldn't be able to avoid it.

Now, the kicker of that was after I graduated from college, my best friend from there actually ended up in Egypt as a teacher in a mission school. She had a wonderful time and called asking me to join her. I had my application in and was ready to go, then everything fell apart in my life and I couldn't.

A few years later, I realized that God had honored my prayers. I didn't go to Africa as a missionary. The good news is, I am more than willing to support my family and friends that choose to go that route.

Jeremiah 1:17, "Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them."

Now, I guess I'm glad that I worked this out with God before He commanded me to go to Africa. I would have done what He called me to do, but I certainly do not need to be terrified by Him because I refused to obey His command to go and preach His word.

Ezekiel 2:7 says, "You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious."

I've had several people ask me about the number of readers I have for this blog. I'm not sure, but here's what I know. I know that God asked me to do this and whether or not there are 10, 100 or 1000 readers, I must do what it is He has asked me to do. That's all that matters.

September 17 - Ignorance is Perilous

Thursday, September 17, 2009

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September 17 - Ignorance of the Bible is Perilous

I guess I'm going to come back to it. How many of you are afraid to get into deep religious discussion because you don't feel as if you know the Bible well enough? Is your hand up? Put it down. That's just embarrassing! :)

Matthew 22:29, "Jesus replied, 'you are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.'"

If you have spent any time reading my blogs over the last year, you are learning Scripture, you are getting this stuff into your head and into your heart. Every single time that you read scripture, whether it is in something like this blog, a daily verse with a meditation that comes into your email, a fully developed Bible study, a sermon on Sunday morning, you are incorporating the Word of God into your life! You are constantly learning.

Of course, you can always do more. But, even the greatest Bible scholar feels as if they don't know enough and could learn more. That is the amazing thing about scripture. No matter how long you study it or how much you know about it, you are only skimming the surface.

You can't afford to be ignorant, though!

John 20:9, "They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead."

or

Acts 13:27, "The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath."

What will you miss if you don't pay attention? I have a friend that expects me to grab her when the rapture comes, she doesn't want to miss it. But, my confidence lies in the fact that while she will never acknowledge a strong understanding of scripture, she is also always searching and trying to pay attention to what it is saying to her.

The most powerful statement comes from Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:15, "Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts."

It is a desire to be aware, a desire to know, a desire to be fully in the presence of God through His Word. Don't let the veil cover your heart. Open yourself to the Word of God and its truth.

September 16 - Profitable for Teaching

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

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September 16 - Profitable for Teaching

Deuteronomy 4:10, "Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when he said to me, 'Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children.'"

Obviously, with this blog, I am able to combine two of my greatest passions - The Bible and teaching. God's Word has so much to offer us and there are so many amazing bits and pieces both small and large contained with the pages of the Bible.

I have been studying Eastern religions for the last several weeks, going through Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, Confucianism, Taoism, Indigenous (i.e. American Indian) religions, etc. and each believes that the teachings from their masters are the most important thing to be delivered to mankind.

We see very little of these teachings except through the media, television shows (remember Kung Fu?) and martial arts, but little by little they are making their way into our society. Now, I'll be honest, much of the teaching is not heretical at all ... learning to live in harmony with each other and with the world around us is important.

For the most part, though, the teachings of the eastern mystics require a lot of study to gain a lot of insight. Maybe if we'd grown up with those teachings, we'd be more comfortable with them. Buddha began by teaching 5 men that had spent time with him while he denied himself everything for 6 long years ... it took a long time for his teachings to reach the people.

On the other hand, God immediately proclaimed that the teachings He gave to Moses be taught ... even to children!

"Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (Deuteronomy 11:19)

In 2 Chronicles 17:9, we read, "They taught throughout Judah, taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people."

Confucianism (in China) was learned by the intellectuals. Since much of early Judaism was taught by oral tradition, the people heard these stories over and over until they knew them and could live by the laws simply because they were so ingrained on their hearts.

Nehemiah 8:13 "On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to give attention to the words of the Law."

By the time we get to the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Israelites had been taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar the Babylonian king, rescued by Cyrus the great and released back to Israel to restore the temple. They were desperate to know the words of the Law again.

It is good to teach the Word of God ... it is good to learn the Word of God.

September 15 - Absolutely Trustworthy

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

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September 15 - Absolutely Trustworthy

When I was growing up, I knew that my father could handle anything. I was completely safe in a boat with him whether we were on a wind-tossed lake, in a canoe flying down a whitewater river, in a van sliding on an icy road, in a house being battered by terrible storms. I trusted him with everything I had because he never failed me as a child.

1 Kings 8:56, "Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses."

Then there was the day when I did something awful. I have no memory of the circumstances, but I definitely remember the shock of mom's words to me when she told me that she no longer trusted me, that I was going to have to work long and hard to earn that trust back. I was devastated by those words. And as much as I wanted to fight with her, I knew that she was right and I had betrayed her. Having her trust me was of great importance to me.

We don't extend trust easily anymore. It seems as if people around us don't deserve it. We are betrayed constantly because of selfishness and greed. Yet those things don't exist in the relationship we have with God.

Psalm 111:7, "The words of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy."

Wouldn't it be amazing to have those things said about us? When Carol and I owned the printing business, the one thing that we wanted our customers to know about us was that we were honest, that we would do everything in our power to meet their deadlines and do the work well. That isn't the way that everyone dealt with us, though and in fact, there were many customers that never really believed we would follow through with that behavior, so they treated us suspiciously from the very beginning. What kind of world do we live in? What kind of world do you live in?

Are your words trustworthy? Are they faithful and just?

Ezekiel 12:25, "But the Lord will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay. For in your days, you rebellious house, I will fulfill whatever I say, declares the Sovereign Lord."

God's word is to be trusted. This is the one constant that we can believe in. As he calls us to perfection, will our word be the same?

September 14 - Contains Seed for the Sower

Monday, September 14, 2009

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September 14 - Contains Seed for the Sower

"He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." Psalm 126:6

I began writing today's lesson thinking about our responsibility as Christians to spread the Word of God and that we are provided with all of the tools we need. These passages for today tell us that the Bible contains the seed that we can use as we sow the truths of the Gospel in the world.

But, then I re-read that first verse from Psalm 126.

How can we take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and not be energized and renewed? Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 9:10, "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness."

So ... as we use up the seed planted in us by God, he not only supplies more, but increases our supply and enlarges the harvest!

All of this wraps around the parable that Jesus teaches in Mark 4:14-20. "The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path where the word is sown. AS soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop - thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown."

There is a never-ending supply of seed, but not only does it increase within us as we share it, it also produces an enormous crop when sown on good soil! God's Word is incredible! It fills us up as we share it and just as Isaiah says in Isaiah 55:11, "...so is the word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

God promises us abundance when we share His Word. By increasing the power of His Word within us, He promises us restoration as we share it. There is no possible way that we can go into the world and tell of His love and the love of the Savior and then have nothing left to give when we are finished.

If we leave with weeping, we will return with rejoicing!

September 13 - Commanded to Study the Bible

Sunday, September 13, 2009

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September 13 - Commanded to Study the Bible

If we spend any time at all ... ever ... reading the Bible, we will find that God expects us to study scripture and understand it.

Deuteronomy 17:19 reads, "It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees.

I have heard, more times than I care to even remember, people telling me that they can't get into religious discussions because they don't know the Bible well enough. I had one person tell me that they were afraid to come to dinner at my home, because they were afraid Dad (a minister) would engage them in conversation about the Bible and they wouldn't be able to speak clearly and would be embarrassed.

When Isaiah speaks of the judgment against the nations and how the animals will take over the city once it has been destroyed, as he explains the process to the Israelites, he says, "Look in the scroll of the Lord and read ..." (Isaiah 34:16a)

Now, Jesus reminds the Jews "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me."

We are told over and over that we should study and learn what is in our Bible.

I love Luke's commentary in Acts 17:11 regarding the Bereans. In fact, this is probably one of my watchwords. "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."

The searched the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Every day! I would love to believe that your passion and love for God would translate into reading Scripture every day. Heck, I would love to believe that I would actually study and search the scriptures every day. But, we are so easily distracted by everything else in the world that the one thing which ensures our knowledge of Jesus Christ and eternal life is easily ignored.

I think I love Paul's statement to the Roman's most of all, though. "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4)

These Words that God inspired in the hearts of the authors of Scripture were written as encouragement to us so that hope remains in our hearts, no matter what.

If we are looking for hope, how can we not look in the one place we are promised by the Lord of Creation to find it?

September 12 - Its Words are Sacred

Saturday, September 12, 2009

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September 12 - The Bible's Words are Sacred - Not to be Altered.

Moses wanted to ensure that the people of Israel would never be swayed by words that didn't come from the Lord God Almighty.

In Deuteronomy 4:2, he says, "Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that give you." and in Deuteronomy 12:32, he repeats, "See that you do all I command you, do not add to it or take away from it."

In the 1970s, there seemed to be a rash of cults and they were growing at rapid rates. One of the major things that identified these groups as cults was the certainty that the leader would use the Bible and then add his own special rules and regulations or remove things that they don't approve of personally, stating that God had given him (or her) special information that was meant to support these changes.

Proverbs 30:6 says, "Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar."

Now, this does not mean that pastors and teachers who interpret and preach the Word of God are causing any problems as long as they don't change the meaning of the passage.

Some of the final words to be found in the Bible come from Revelation 22:19, "And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."

That's actually a little bit frightening and should be intimidating to anyone who chooses to try to transform scripture into their own tool, based on their own needs.

Words such as these that exist in both the Old and New Testament, give me confidence that God has had His hand on His Word since the beginning. If there is one thing I am confident of, it is that God has the power to mold His Word and will care for it and protect it so that no one comes to harm because of it.

God's Word is meant to bring people into relationship with Him ... He will ensure that its wholeness is according to His will.

September 11 - Read in the Great Congregation

Friday, September 11, 2009

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September 11 - Read in the Great Congregation

One of the first things I did as a kid upon sitting down in the pew was check out the scripture. Alright, that was after I put a piece of paper in the hymnal to mark every single hymn we would be singing, but I wanted to see how long we would have to stand there while the scripture was going to be read out loud. And then I would see who the lay leader was for the morning - would they read clearly and quickly or would they end up stumbling over words and draw it out even longer.

Moses took the Book of the Covenant in Exodus 24:7 and read it to the people. I'm certain they didn't have lawn chairs or comfortable pews (or even uncomfortable pews). They listened as he read the covenant to them and then responded, "We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey."

The reading of the Law was a common occurrence. The people of Israel did have access to the scriptures in printed form, so they had to hear the words of God over and over for them to sink into their hearts.

In Joshua 8:34, we read "Afterward, Joshua read all the words of othe law - the blessings and the curses - just as it is written in the Book of the Law. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them"

Baruch read Jeremiah's words from the Lord to the people in the temple, proclaiming anger and wrath against them. (Jeremiah 36:8)

In the New Testament, we see Jesus come to the temple to begin His ministry. He stands to read and the words of the prophet Isaiah are opened before Him, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of God's favor." (Luke 4:17-19)

Paul tells his readers in the letter to the Colossians to ensure that the letter is also read to the church of Laodicea and that their letter should be read to the church in Colossae. (Colossians 4:16)

The words of God were meant to be read to the people. When James tells his readers that they should "not merely listen to the word, but do what it says," (James 1:22) he knows that the only place they are receiving the message from God's word is in their community gatherings.

The Word is meant to be heard, it is also meant to be acted upon.

September 10 - Written with a Purpose

Thursday, September 10, 2009

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September 10 - Written with a Purpose

The Scriptures were not just given to us on a whim, they were written with a purpose. Actually, they were written with several purposes.

John 20:31 tells us that "These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

We find prophecies about the coming of the Messiah all throughout the Old Testament. Even with everything pointing to Jesus as the Christ, there were still many questions. John tells us that the scriptures were written to give authenticity to Jesus as the Son of God!

Paul tells us that they were written to give hope to mankind. In Romans 15:4, we read "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

In 1 Corinthians 10:11 we read, "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come."

You know, they say that history repeats itself over and over and that mankind never learns. Now, while I love reading the stories of stupidity and redemption in the Bible, it occurs to me that though I might not do exactly the same things, I make mistakes that are just as dangerous to my soul! Warnings to me? It would be good to take these to heart.

One of the greatest gifts of the scriptures is that it tells us about eternal life with the Father. 1 John 5:13 says, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."

Jesus Christ suffered a gruesome death so that we might be redeemed into eternal life. The Word of God assures us over and over that a place is prepared for us and that God desires to welcome us into His home. I'm thankful for that assurance.

September 9 - Purifies the Life

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

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September 9 - Purifies the Life

Psalm 119:9 - "How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word."

I've just finished a week of intensely reading about Hinduism. Their holy scriptures are called the Vedas. There are some of these writings that are older than the Bible, they were being sung at about the same period of time that Moses was bringing the Israelites out of Egypt. The one thing about the Hindu scriptures that I find to be very different than the Bible is that truth is quite relative. Purity, knowledge ... all of those things that lead to 'enlightenment' are quite flexible and are actually defined by the believer.

As I read the verses for today, it becomes quite obvious that God's truth is ironclad. You really can't skirt the issues when you decide that you will follow and abide by His law. Alright, there are some things that are very open to interpretation, but the basic truth of God and his rules for living in holiness aren't really flexible.

Jesus says in John 15:3, "You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you."

He has come to bring us to a point of holiness so that we can approach the throne of God.

He says in John 17:17 as He prays, "Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth."

Paul speaks of the church in Ephesians 5:26 when saying that Jesus "makes her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word."

In 1 Peter 1:22, Peter writes, "Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply from the heart."

The Word of Truth brings holiness ... purity to our lives.

September 8 - A Blessing to Those Who Reverence It

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

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September 8 - A Blessing to Those Who Reverence It

"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." (Joshua 1:8)

I have a friend who, as a manager, is continually astounded when his subordinates find that what he has told them is actually correct and are surprised. He always says, "I'm just not that obtuse, am I?" No ... you're pretty matter of fact and your directions are generally very clear.

Well, that's exactly how I treat the scriptures sometimes. They really aren't obtuse. They don't hide the truth from me, it's obvious. Yet I am startled to find within it, the power to change a life.

David, in Psalm 19, while speaking of the precepts of the Lord say, "By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward." (Psalm 19:11)

Jesus continues in this vein, "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock." (Matthew 7:24-25)

In Luke 11:28, He says, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

In John 5:24, Jesus is speaking to the Jews when He says, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."

"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31)

God has made it very clear to us that incredible blessings will be poured out on us if we hold fast to the Word of God. However, it is nearly impossible to 'hold fast' to these words if we don't know what they are. Notice in Jesus' teaching, He also makes it clear that we need to 'hear' the Word. Whether that means hear it preached, or read the scriptures, we need to ensure that we hold these words from the God of Creation close to our hearts.

Revelation 1:3, "Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."

The time is near ... the blessings can be at hand. Hear the Word of the Lord, obey, believe, meditate on the Word.

September 7 - Powerful in its Influence

Monday, September 7, 2009

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September 7 - Powerful in its Influence

The Word of God is seen with many different attributes in scripture. I know how it has affected me through the years and sometimes I find that it is tender and merciful, other times I read it with great affection, there are times when I find that it calms and restores me and then there are those times when it challenges and disciplines me.

In all of this, I sense that God is at work in my life through His Word.

Jeremiah hears from the Lord "Therefore this is what the Lord God Almighty says: 'Because the people have spoken these words, I will make my words in your mouth a fire and these people the wood it consumes.'" (Jer. 5:14)

It is also a crushing fire. Jeremiah 23:29, "'Is not my word like fire,' declares the Lord, 'and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?'"

The Word of the Lord has the power to bring us to our knees.

Ezekiel's story of the bones coming to life tells of how God's Word gives life! "So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone." (Ezekiel 37:7)

Now there's a powerful image to show us exactly what it is that God wants to be able to do for us. He knit us together, but HIs words have the power to bring dry bones to life. This isn't something I'd like to see happening on Halloween, but I'm pretty sure that if God were the One in the middle of this miracle, I'd be blown away.

Paul reminds us in Romans 1:16 that he is ..."not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believe: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile."

The Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to save lives!

One of my favorite images is that of the Sword of the Spirit - the Word of God in Ephesians 6:17. Paul continues with that imagery in Hebrews 4:12, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

The Word of God, the scriptures that are sitting on a shelf in your home or out on a coffee table or stuck in a book bag to be opened once you are involved in a Bible study, are filled with the power of God. The Holy Spirit has been promised to us as a counselor, as a teacher. We just have to be ready to learn. God will bless us as we spend time in His Word with power that can be unimaginable. But, God is the One that identifies how that power will be manifested!

September 6 - Loved by the Saints

Sunday, September 6, 2009

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September 6 - Loved by the Saints

Do you ever sense the profound impact of the fact that the Bible has been around for thousands of years and that it has touched the hearts of people throughout all of those years. We are connected to history because of these words.

Throughout all of history, the words of God have been loved by more than just me. David spoke a lot about how much God's word meant to him.

Psalm 119:47 "for I delight in your commandments because I love them."

Psalm 119:72 "The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold."

Psalm 119:82 "My eyes fail, looking for your promise; I say, 'When will you comfort me?'"

Psalm 119:97 "Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long."

Psalm 119:140 "Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them."

The entire 119th Psalm is a glorious song of praise to the Law of God. Sometime you might want to spend a little time with it. I'll save it for another month.

Jeremiah also spoke of his love for God's words, "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty." (Jer. 15:16)

How deeply do you inhale, do you ingest God's Word? I am in love with this book and I am not alone. Saints from the beginning of time have treasured these words and have redefined their lives because of them.

The Word of God gives me a connection through all of those saints to the beginning of time. I am not alone when I stand on the Word of God. There are so many before me that have given themselves up for the passion of the commandments, the prophecies, the teaching and the history that God has put into words.

I love the Word of God.

September 5 - Furnishes a Light in the Darkness

Saturday, September 5, 2009

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September 5 - Furnishes a Light in Darkness

Ok, ok, I'm admitting it out loud. I love vampire stories. I love them! I like scary vampires, but I like the contemporary stories even better ... you know the ones where the mysterious vampire meets the innocent human. Oh, I'm totally addicted to these things. I think I've read the Twilight series at least three times and I'm on my third read-through of the Sookie Stackhouse stories (Trueblood on HBO). That doesn't even begin to tell you the huge number of other vampire books I've downloaded to my Kindle.

But, the one thing about vampires is that they can't be in direct sunlight. They avoid light. There is always the question that remains, "Do vampires have souls?" It comes down to a very spiritual question. Can something that lives forever and requires the lifeblood of another individual to live ever make it to heaven?

Well, I don't plan on answering those questions here. It seems a bit ridiculous since I also don't believe that vampires exist.

How could I live without sunlight? When things are dark and grey, dreary and overcast for very long, my heart sags within me. The same thing happens when my emotions are drawn into upheaval. Everything within me seems to fall into darkness.

Could the fix be so simple?

Psalm 19:8 says, "The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes."

Psalm 119:105, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."

I don't believe the psalmist is speaking literally here unless we burn the pages that the scriptures are written on to gain a little light in the darkness. My heart walks a path and my body seems to follow most of the time. The words that God has given to me are the light for that path.

Proverbs 6:23, "For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life."

Peter tells us in his second letter, "And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts." (2 Peter 1:19)

My heart can be a very dark place sometimes. Yes, the fix is as simple as all of that. There is no possible way for me to spend time in the Word of God and remain fixed on the darkness. These words are the light that transforms the darkness.

September 4 - Precepts Written in the Heart

Friday, September 4, 2009

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September 4 - Precepts Written in the Heart

There are points in scripture that God acknowledges people have hardened their hearts against Him. See, that always breaks my heart. I see it yet today, though. There might seem to be a defiant attitude towards opening your heart to God, or even worse, apathy. The heart is so withered towards the love of God that it feels as if there is no hope.

But, how would that be transformed if the knowledge of God's Word were closer to us than anything else? I don't believe that God intended for His Word to ever be difficult to study and understand. He meant for it to be a physical, moment by moment link with Him. When we can't see Him or touch Him or use any of our senses to recognize His presence, we can read His words and know that He has gone to great lengths to show us His love.

Deuteronomy 6:6 says "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts."

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads." (Deuteronomy 11:18)

Our hearts are easily broken. When we put up barriers to keep people out, when we are wounded by actions and words, it is our heart that takes the greatest beating. Why in the world would God ask us to put His words upon our hearts if He didn't plan to use that avenue to protect us and to love us?

Psalm 119:11 says, "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

These words protect us from evil.

Luke 2:51 tells us that "...he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart."

When she grew older and told Luke the story of Jesus' birth, those memories and the knowledge of what she had experienced was still written on her heart.

Paul tells us in Romans 10:8, "the word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,' that is the word of faith we are proclaiming..."

When the Word of God is solidly in our hearts, it can flow from our mouths. What an amazing gift we can be to the people who come in contact with us if we relate to them using the Word of God! It is written on our hearts so that it can be spoken with our mouths.

Colossians 3:16, "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God."

As the Word of God dwells within us, so will the Lord God Himself. What better way to keep our hearts tender and loving.

September 3 - Divinely Inspired

Thursday, September 3, 2009

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September 3 - Divinely Inspired

Sometimes I get quite emotional when I realize the gift that I have been given ... that we all have been given ... within the pages of our Bible. That the Lord God Almighty would desire a relationship with us is almost more than I can comprehend. There is no King or Ruler on earth that could be bothered with me, but the Creator of everything we see and that which we can't see wants me to understand Him and wants to be close to me.

The gift of His words is a large part of what makes that relationship happen. He gave us prophecies, teaching, stories of failures and success, descriptions of His power, songs of praise and worship to help us understand the depth of His great love for us.

Jeremiah 36:2, "Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now."

Ezekiel 1:3, "...the word of the Lord came to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, by the Kebar River int he land of the Babylonians. There the hand of the Lord was upon him.

Zechariah 7:12, "They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets."

Over and over again we are told that the Lord spoke through His prophets so that the people of Israel would understand exactly Who it was they were to take leadership from.

In Acts 1:16, Peter says "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus."

King David, spent hours before the Lord and as God spoke to him, wrote prophecies in the Psalms as well as hymns of praise.

Paul tells Timothy that "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." (2 Timothy 3:16)

Peter says, in 2 Peter 1:21, "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." We see the reality of that in Revelation 1:1 when John identifies that the revelation of Jesus Christ came when Jesus sent his angel to John to deliver it.

In Revelation 14:13, John says "Then I heard a voice from heaven say, 'Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.'"

These men knew that they were hearing from the Lord and knew that they were the conduit for His words to God's people. They were assured by the Lord over and over of the importance of what they were doing.

God has given us His words so that we can know Him intimately. What a gift we have received.

September 2 - Food for the Soul

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

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September 2 - Food for the Soul

I love words. I love to read, I love to write. A friend asked if I actually saw words in my mind. I do. All the time. Mom used to laugh at me. If there were words anywhere, I would stop to read them. I'd get lost in the cereal box at breakfast and would read every single word on the box until she could catch my attention and draw me away. If there is something nearby for me to read, I will read it. I end up being a terrible snoop, but I really don't mean to, my eyes are simply drawn to words on the page. I read at an incredible rate because I can gather in a huge number of words, make sense of what the author is trying to say and move on quickly. I learned how to skim and still retain information years ago. I love words.

To be honest, if I were given a choice between eating and reading, I would choose reading every time. Now, obviously, I've never had to make that choice, but it's not one that would take more than a moment to make. A Snickers or a good book? I'll take the book, thank you very much.

Deuteronomy 8:3 says, "He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." (also found in Matthew 4:4)

In Job 23:12, we read, "I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread."

This all seems very clear to me. The words that God gives to us are more important than the food which gives us life. The Lord gave manna to the Israelites as they wandered in the desert so that they would be nourished and would live. But as important as that nourishment was, the words that came from His mouth was even more important!

There were times in my life when I was too busy (insert whatever excuse you'd like) to read the Bible on a regular basis. Every time I came back to it, I felt like I was snuggling into my favorite comfortable clothing, surrounded by a bed filled with soft pillows. It was the most comfortable place I could imagine. The Word of God is my comfort, my fulfillment, my nourishment. If you took every other book away from me, I would still be content to read and re-read this Book.

"How sweet are your promises to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" (Psalm 119:103)

Jeremiah 15:16 - "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty."

These words, this Word of God is my joy and my heart's delight.

September 1 - The Book of the Ages

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

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September 1 - The Book of the Ages

If you know me at all, you know that one of the greatest passions of my life is the Bible. I can't imagine not having access to the incredible storehouse of knowledge, hope, truth and so much more from God. I believe that it is the inspired word of the God of Creation.

It never occurred to me to question whether it would be available to me after I died. I guess I assumed that I wouldn't need it once I was in heaven because once I was in the presence of God, all things would be made clear to me.

That may actually be, but the Bible itself tells us that these words will always be here. I'm not sure what to do with that little bit of information. Will the written word still exist for me when I stand before God or will I FINALLY have the entire scripture committed to memory!

Psalm 119:89 says "Your word, O Lord is eternal, it stands firm in the heavens."

Isaiah 40:8 says "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever."

Now, I've talked quite a bit about how Jesus Christ is the Word of God (John 1:1-5) in past blog studies, so at any given moment, I'm not sure how to interpret all of these passages. Maybe standing in the throne room before the Lamb who was slain (Rev. 5:6), it will be very clear to me that in Jesus Christ I will find every single word that has been handed down from generation to generation in the form of the Bible. I think that could be very cool.

In Matthew 5:18, Jesus is telling the crowds that He has come to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it or the Prophets. "I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, nor the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

But, in Matthew 24:35, He says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

There we have it. Jesus is the Word of God. The Law will finally disappear when everything that God has planned for this earth is accomplished, but Jesus Christ's words ... Jesus Christ - the Word of God ... will never pass away.

Peter affirms this in 1 Peter 1:25, "but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.

We face eternity with the Sword of the Spirit ... the Word of God ... the Lamb who was slain ... Jesus Christ by our side, standing between us and judgment. The more that we reach into scripture to learn about who He is and how we can have an amazing relationship with the God of Creation, the more we feel confident to approach eternity. We will go forward with a familiarity, a sense of closeness, when we spend time with The Book of the Ages.