Tag Archives: Scripture

I Corinthians 1-5; A Little Yeast

It occurred to me as I read this portion of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians that we Christians are concerned about the state of the world; we lament over the blatant sin, the disregard for Christianity, the increasing ungodliness accepted as normal. And we are right to do so

But Paul is talking about caring for the temple. I wonder if we’re as concerned about that as we are about the world. It’s easy to point fingers, to talk about “they.” It’s not as easy to point those fingers at ourselves.

Paul tells us we ourselves are God’s temple. (3:16) He asks us to consider our foundation, and our building materials. Are we building our faith on the standards of the age, the wisdom of the world? Or is our foundation Jesus Christ, our faith built on Scripture, God’s wisdom? Is our temple built by we who are servants, obedient, faithful?

Paul warns us not to go “beyond what is written.” Do we even know what is written? Building and protecting this temple called Connie involves reading and studying God’s Word apart from anything else. It means obeying God by keeping myself pure, by listening to His voice and sharing Him with others. Caring for this temple, where God lives on earth, involves effort, intentionality, humility.

Now, I believe if we Christians took better care of our temples, our own lives and relationships with God, then our world wouldn’t be in the state it’s in.

But God pointed out something else to me this morning. We Christians aren’t taking very good care of God’s Church, either. I guess that’s a direct result of not protecting ourselves from sin. But Paul addresses the problem of ignoring sin in the church. He even said the church in Corinth was proud of the fact that they embraced a man guilty of a sexual sin. “Shouldn’t you rather be grieved over this sin,” he asks?

I can’t help but think of whole denominations that embrace homosexuals in their congregations and their pulpits. Shouldn’t God’s people be grieved instead? But Paul doesn’t stop with the sexual sin this particular church-goer was guilty of. Paul includes, “greedy, an idolator or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler” in his list of people who should not be comfortable in our pews.

Paul goes so far as to say they shouldn’t be welcome in the church. I know that goes against what many of us believe these days. But I think we need to consider the truth of what God inspired Paul to write.

I remember years ago, after the contemporary movement was introduced as a result of surveys given to unchurched people about what they would like to see in churches that would encourage them to attend, Ravi Zacharias said something to this effect:

Church should be the last place a sinner feels comfortable.

And I believe that. A church that prides itself on tolerance, on open doors, on a come-as-you-are-and-stay-that-way approach, isn’t a church at all, no matter how involved they are in their communities. It’s a social club. I think I’ve shared about the “church” that advertises by saying, “Come worship with us. We won’t tell you what to believe.” Is that where we’re heading?

It is if we don’t start protecting our temple, caring for our churches. It has to start with each of us individually. But it also has to spill over into our churches. Do we allow sin into our midst, hoping that somehow it will turn into purity? Paul says beware, a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast.” (5:7) I think that is true both for my heart, and in my church.

If I accept a little sin here and there in my life, it doesn’t stay little. It grows, and it invites its friends in. If we accept, or ignore, a sin in our church it won’t stay little there, either. One sin becomes two, then four, and we end up with an unusable batch of dough. Paul challenges us to become “bread without yeast,” a fellowship without sin.

I hope you’ll read these chapters in I Corinthians. There is so much here. Some of it is hard to hear, some of it will thrill your soul. Let God speak to your heart today, and may it change us. May it change the Church.

Isaiah 40-43; Hold On To Your Hats

Do you not know? Have you not heard?

Reading these chapters today has me praising God, not only for what He does for His children (which is nothing short of amazing), but in the reality of who He is. I hope you’ll read these chapters today for yourself. Be ready to have your socks knocked off!

It starts off with God wanting to comfort us, to assure us His Word will stand forever. It was true back then, it’s true today, and it will be true a thousand years from now. There is something very reassuring about that fact. I don’t have to wonder, or stress, or hope what I believe is right. If it’s in there… it’s true!

Isaiah tells us God is exactly who He says He is. He’s the God above all gods, the Creator, and the Savior. There is no one like Him. Lift up your eyes and look to the Creator who gives strength to us who hope in the Lord. He gives us everything we need to face our day, and in every situation. He upholds his children (me and you) in His right hand. Doesn’t that give you confidence and peace?

I love 41:17-20. We are thirsty, but God doesn’t just give us a drink. He turns our desert into pools of water, flowing rivers, and bubbling springs. And He doesn’t even stop there. He grows shade trees, fragrant trees, and food-producing trees to sustain us.

I think that’s what Paul meant when he honored God as the one “who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20) We ask for a sip of water, God opens the flood gates!

Isaiah points us to Jesus who opens blind eyes, and sets captives free. He is God! He loves us, redeems us, forgives our sins and promises to never remember them ever again, and He takes us by the hand to guide us.

Isaiah 43:2 is a treasure you can take to the bank.

Oh dear one, take time to read these words God inspired Isaiah to write. But hold on to your hat. You’re going to be blown away. Then join me in praising God, the One who deserves our praise.

Proverbs 25-31; Can You Hear Me Now?

I love how God speaks to His children through the words He inspired men to put to paper thousands of years ago. I hope you aren’t squandering this precious pipeline to God’s heart.

These last chapters of the book of Proverbs have a lot to say about a lot of topics. But honestly, as I read them today I found myself skipping over some of the verses without much consideration. The topics of those don’t apply to my life as much right now. Work ethic, honesty, material possessions, alcohol aren’t things God is dealing with me in 2018.

However, anger is. Quarreling is. Relationships in my life are challenging today, this minute, and God nudged me every time I read those verses that speak to those things. I hear you loud and clear, Lord.

Once again, I was tempted to point fingers. I’d think, “Boy, So and So should read this verse.” Or, “Yeah, that describes So and So.”

And once again, God reminded me that I need to take care of the plank in my own eye before I worry about a speck in someone else’s.

I believe, according to what I read in Scripture, there may very well come a time when I need to address that speck in the eyes of my loved ones. But not before I have a clean heart, pure motives, and God’s leading first.

Not that I’m a “Proverbs 31 Woman,” by any stretch of the imagination, but I would like verse 26 to describe me:

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Speak, Lord. I can hear You.

 

Psalms 123-132; The Theme

I am not what you’d call a Bible scholar. Other people have studied Scripture, dissected it, put it on a timeline, and could tell you the dimensions of the temple off the tops of their heads. I’m not that person. I just don’t like studying God’s Word through a microscope. That might be your approach, and that’s okay. But that’s just not me.

Psalm 131 has the title, “Growing in Grace,” and I would like to think it describes me. I don’t “concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” Material details just don’t interest me. But the message is my passion.

I see the Bible as one cohesive book with one theme: Jesus. From cover to cover it is all about Jesus. I don’t see it as being so much about a people group, or some mystery book that throws out clues so we can guess what’s coming in the future. I see it as a story about a God who created this universe in order to share His love. It’s about a God who chose mankind to fellowship with and save. It’s about that Savior who gave His life for love of each of us. And it’s about that same Savior who is coming again to take us to be with Him forever.

That’s how I like to read Scripture, looking for that theme in every historical account. I don’t get caught up in the historical account.  Again, if you enjoy the history I’m not telling you there’s anything wrong with that. I’m just sharing my own approach to reading and studying God’s Word.

Some will say that’s too simplistic of an approach. Maybe. Maybe not.

I’m like the weaned child with his mother. (can’t get much simpler than that). That child is a blank slate. That child will grow, and learn, and love by choice.

So I will continue to read these precious pages. I will still and quiet my soul, putting my hope in the Lord both now and forever. And I will see Jesus on every page.

Dear Teacher, I want to be that blank slate today. May I, as I read Your Word and pray, recognize Jesus in every chapter, every verse Your Holy Spirit inspired the men to write. I don’t want to be sidetracked by rabbit trails that don’t have much to do with the bottom line. Teach me about Jesus, help me to grow in grace and knowledge of Him. And may I be equipped to share His story with someone today.

 

Psalm 118-122; A Treasure

Have you spent enough time in God’s Word to get it? When you read a passage that refers to another passage, do you recognize it? Like, did 118:25-28 remind you of anything?

I will say I look forward to reading God’s Word every day. Being retired, I have the luxury of opening the Bible any time of the day or night. It’s already 10:30 in the morning and I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee, pouring over Scripture and praying. What a privilege.

Over the years I have highlighted some verses in Psalm 119 that spoke to me. You probably know this psalm is about God’s Word to us. The psalmist loves Scripture with a passion. Verse after verse talks about this amazing gift we have in God’s written Word. I’d like to share some of the verses that I’ve highlighted at various times in my life:

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. (vs 11)

Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors. (vs 24)

My comfort in my suffering is this; Your promise preserves my life. (vs 50)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (vs 105)

You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word. (vs 114)

This book is a treasure. In it is everything we need to know, every answer to every question. It’s a love letter straight from the heart of God.

Take time to read it today… and tomorrow. Love it. Use it. You won’t want to miss precious verses like these:

I lift up my eyes to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. (121:1-2)

 

 

Psalms 17-18: I Love God

Before I even opened my Bible this morning I prayed, “God, I just want to praise you today. Nothing controversial, nothing political. I just want to love you today.”

Does God answer prayer? Does He meet us at the point of our need? Imagine my surprise when I read the first verse of Psalm 18:

I love you, O Lord, my strength.

I love LOVE how God makes His Word come alive, how He can speak directly to our hearts from these precious pages.

So I read this psalm, not looking for the ways God worked in David’s life, not trying to identify with David’s suffering, but the fact that God did meet David’s need.

So…

To the God who is my rock and salvation (vs 2), who hears me (vs 6), who has dominion over creation (vv 8-15), who took hold of me and rescued me (vv 16-17), who delights in me (vs 19), who is the giver of every good thing, and turns my darkness into light (vv 20-29), who is perfect, flawless (vs 30), who prepares me to fight my enemy Satan (vv 30-36), who gives the victory (vv 37-45), who is worthy of praise…

I love You!

2 Kings 1; Who’s To Blame?

I’ve heard it said a lot lately, that this world is corrupt, and it’s only going to get worse, that evil people will continue to gain momentum. I’m telling you it doesn’t have to be that way.

Did you read about how Elijah spoke to the men King Ahaziah sent to get him? A captain and fifty armed soldiers told Elijah, “The king says, come.” Seems harmless enough. But remember who Ahaziah’s parents were. Ahaziah knew exactly who this man of God was: the prophet responsible for the death of his parents, Ahab and Jezebel. I doubt their offspring wanted to invite Elijah to tea.

Elijah would have nothing to do with Ahaziah or his men. In fact, to demonstrate that Elijah was a man of God, he said fire would come down from heaven and consume them. Fire from heaven came down and consumed them.

Ahaziah sent another fifty soldiers to go get Elijah. They died, too. It wasn’t until the third captain humbled himself before Elijah, and in turn before God, that God told Elijah to go with them. Then, standing before the king, Elijah did not back down. He stayed true to God’s Word. No compromise here!

Thirty or so years ago, there was a trend for churches to hire outsiders to come into their fellowship, survey members, talk to people in the neighborhoods, learn the “demographics,” then recommend changes the churches needed to make to grow their attendance. As a result we’ve got “contemporary” worship styles, the removal of pulpits, altars, hymns, and organs. We’ve come up with clever little names for our fellowships because being identified with a denomination “turned people off.” We’ve adopted a casual approach to worship so everyone feels comfortable, a laid back atmosphere so people don’t feel threatened, entertaining worship services so people go away feeling good, and Starbucks in the foyer.

We’ve also seen the word, “sin” replaced with “lifestyle” or “tolerance,” “acceptance,” and of course, “God’s love.”

Many churches did see a marked growth, more bodies in the chairs each Sunday, or Saturday night if that’s more “convenient.” The mega-church was born. We may have compromised a bit. But numbers don’t lie.

Or do they?

Let me ask you this: Is our world better than it was thirty years ago? Is there less crime, less evil, a mega turning to God since the church implemented these changes? I’m not asking if there are people coming to your church. I’m asking what impact your church has had on our world. Are drug dealers, thieves, child molesters, drunks, soccer moms, and CEO’s coming to the Savior because your church is out there actively winning souls?

I would say, after reading the news, I doubt it. Now, if you are involved in a church that IS making a difference and seeing people repent of sin and come to the Lord, understand I know I’m preaching to the choir. But, from what I see in our country and the world, the Church is failing in our mission to go and make disciples.

Here’s why my thoughts went here today. Read what J Vernon McGee had to say about 2 Kings 1, and Elijah’s firm stand:

There is much talk today about the fact that we should learn to communicate and learn to get along with everybody. May I say to you that this is not God’s method. The compromise of the church and its leaders has not caused the world to listen to the church. As a matter of fact, the world is not listening at all. They pass the church right by. Why? The world will not listen until the church declares the Word of God. If the church preached God’s Word, there would be communication. (p 157, Through the Bible commentary, I & II Kings)

Dr. McGee wrote those words in the middle of the trend I spoke about earlier. His words were prophetic. If the world didn’t listen to the Church back then, it laughs at the Church today.

Do you know why I believe what Dr. McGee said is true? God has said that His Word would not return void. (Isaiah 55:11) Our world is not in the shape it’s in because Satan is so strong. It’s because the church is so weak. We refashioned ourselves to look like the world, to the point they don’t see their need to change. We have neglected God’s Word, and in turn, have harnessed His power to save souls. And we read about the result of this in the news every day.

And don’t even tell me it’s God’s will. Jesus didn’t tell us to go into the world and preach the gospel until things got tough, then sit back and let evil take over because He’ll rapture the church before things get really bad. We’ll dodge that bullet, too bad for everybody else. If that theology makes me mad, I can imagine God’s opinion of it.

Our world is in bad shape. But it doesn’t have to stay that way. I pray that the Holy Spirit will revive the Church, that Christians will see sinners through Jesus’ eyes, that we will stand firm on the Truth of Scripture, and proclaim it from the mountaintops, in our churches, and in our neighborhoods. I also pray that Christians will live lives that attract people to their Savior.

Oh, dear Christian. Don’t sit back and blame Satan, or the media, or a president for the state of things in our world. We have the God of the Universe ready and eager to step in. We have no one to blame but ourselves.