Scripture

All Scripture

Bible

 

Let’s be honest. When most of us open our Bibles to read, there are some books, some passages, and some verses we like and read more than others. More times than not, I would bet we spend most of our time in the New Testament. If we do spend time in the Old Testament, we probably read the Psalms or maybe Proverbs. Those books are very poetic, and contain such practical wisdom! Who wouldn’t love reading them?

Now, if I were to ask us why we read the New Testament more than the Old, we would probably say something like, “Well, that’s where Jesus is,” or, “Well, I like to read about the Gospel…and the New Testament is where we read all about the Gospel and the good news of Jesus Christ.”

Just to illustrate this point, friend of mine told me recently about visiting a church, and a pastor glanced at the Bible that was on the table in the sanctuary – which was opened to and Old Testament passage – and the minister said something like, “I don’t know why the Bible is opened to that book, this is a NEW TESTAMENT Church!”

Now, most of us probably wouldn’t be so blunt…but I have a feeling, that even if we wouldn’t verbalize things quite that way, I think practically in our personal study of the Scriptures, that’s how we approach the Bible.

Take for instance a book like Leviticus. Most of us probably wouldn’t associate the book of Leviticus with the Gospel. Leviticus is one of the five books of Moses that we call the Law. Normally when we start our yearly Bible reading plans, IF we start a yearly Bible reading plan, or if we’ve ever attempted to read through the bible in its entirety…I would imagine that more times than not, Leviticus is the book that we end up getting bogged down in.

And there are probably many reasons for that. As you read through the book you’ll find that basically the entire book is instructions in regards to the various offerings and sacrifices that the people were supposed to offer to God.

In this book we see Moses talking about burnt offerings, grain offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings…and on and on it goes. So, as we read through this book, it can be quite easy to get a bit bored (Let’s just say it)…especially because as we read through this book, we really don’t see how it applies to us.

We don’t have to offer these types of offerings. We are no longer bound by the Law. We don’t have to offer sacrifices. We are now under the new covenant, we have Jesus…so, the question we probably bring to the Bible as we read through a book like Leviticus, is “Why in the world should I read this? What the heck does this have to do with me?”

I would love to take the time to tell us all about how these various offerings and sacrifices all point us to Jesus and see His Gospel, but for now time doesn’t allow.

But, let me say first and foremost, the reason we should read a book like Leviticus in particular, and the Old Testament in general…is because it’s the Word of God. And as the inspired, God breathed Word of God, it ought to be important to us!

2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that, “ALL Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

These words by Paul, do not simply apply to the New Testament, though they do…but we have to remember, that when many of the Apostles and their associates were writing their letters and going around from town to town preaching the Gospel and planting churches…the New Testament as we have it didn’t exist. They, inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit were in the process of writing it and putting it together.

But yet, we see God working powerfully through their preaching. And what Scripture were they primarily teaching and preaching, and appealing to in order to make their case that Jesus was the Messiah? It was the Old Testament!

Jesus did the same thing as he preached…When Jesus first began his ministry, we read in Luke 4:17-21 how Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah, and told them that the Scriptures were fulfilled in Him. But maybe even more clearly, look at Luke 24:25-27:

“And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses (which no doubt includes the book of Leviticus) and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

So, when Jesus was preaching Jesus, what did he do? He went back to the Old Testament and he preached the Scriptures.

My point is this, the Sacred Scriptures for the Christian doesn’t start in the New Testament with the book of Matthew. But Jesus himself tells us over and over again that the entirety of the Bible, including the Old Testament and the books of the Law are about Him. There is not a book in the Old Testament (Or the New) that we can’t see Jesus, teach Jesus, preach Jesus, and glory in the Gospel, because the entirety of the Old Testament was written to testify to the Jesus that is beautifully revealed to us in the New Testament.

 

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits…

What I am meditating on as Easter approaches…

Job 14:14

“Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death.”

Psalm 130

“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption. And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.”

Good Friday

Matthew 27:27-54

“Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.

Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. And they went out to a place called Golgotha(which means “Place of the Skull”). The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it.

After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. A sign was fastened to the cross above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe him! He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, “I am the Son of God.” Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.

At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Some of the bystanders understood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. But the rest said, “Wait! Let’s see whether Elijah comes to save him.”

Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people.

The Roman officer and the other soldiers at the crucifixion were terrified by the earthquake and all that had happened. They said, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

Psalm 22(written perhaps 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus)

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. Our ancestors trusted in you, and you rescued them. They cried out to you and were saved. They trusted in you and were never disgraced.

But I am a worm and not a man. I am scorned and despised by all! Everyone who sees me mocks me. They sneer and shake their heads, saying, “Is this the one who relies on the Lord? Then let the Lord save him! If the Lord loves him so much, let the Lord rescue him!”

Yet you brought me safely from my mother’s womb and led me to trust you at my mother’s breast. I was thrust into your arms at my birth. You have been my God from the moment I was born.

Do not stay so far from me, for trouble is near, and no one else can help me. My enemies surround me like a herd of bulls; fierce bulls of Bashan have hemmed me in! Like lions they open their jaws against me, roaring and tearing into their prey. My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me. My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead. My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me.

They have pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones. My enemies stare at me and gloat. They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.

O Lord, do not stay far away! You are my strength; come quickly to my aid! Save me from the sword; spare my precious life from these dogs. Snatch me from the lion’s jaws and from the horns of these wild oxen.

I will proclaim your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise you among your assembled people. Praise the Lord, all you who fear him! Honor him, all you descendants of Jacob! Show him reverence, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.

I will praise you in the great assembly. I will fulfill my vows in the presence of those who worship you. The poor will be satisfied. All who seek the Lord will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy. The whole earth will acknowledge the Lord and return to him. All the families of the nations will bow before him. For royal power belongs to the Lord. He rules the nations.

Let the rich of the earth feast and worship. Bow before him, all who are mortal, all whose lives will end as dust. Our children will also serve him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything he has done.”

Isaiah 52:13-53:12(written about 700 years before the birth of Christ)

“See my servant will prosper, he will be highly exalted. But many were amazed when the saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man. And he will startle many nations. Kings will stand speechless in his presence. For they will see what they had not been told; they will understand what they had not heard about.

Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected-a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.

Yet it was our weakness he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we cold be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. All of us like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s path to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.

But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

Thank you precious Lord Jesus for bearing the sins and interceding on behalf of this filthy rebel. I certainly am not worthy. All praise in heaven and on earth belong to you, and you alone. Amen…

Please follow this link, and meditate on what Christ has done for you….When I Survey the Wondrous Cross


Morning Meditations…

What I’m reflecting/meditating on this morning:

“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.”-Revelation 4:8

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”-Isaiah 6:3

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?”-Exodus 15:11

When we read, hear, and say that God is holy, it is somewhat easy to pin down what that means. True, there are many facets, and his holiness, splendor, and majesty may be beyond our full comprehension, but we have a general picture of what it means, and though we may not fully comprehend it, it cannot help but turn our hearts to worship.(Unless you are Spiritually dead…)

As I think about, and reflect on God and His word this morning though, as I meditate on the above Scriptures, and His holiness, I can’t help but ponder the implications of His holiness for us when I read such passages as:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”- Genesis 1:27

“…but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy…”-1 Peter 1:15-16

All I can say is wow, examine myself, be humbled, and then I must worship…

Resurrection?

I was recently instructed in a class I’ve been taking through the church I’ve been attending the past few weeks to write a short paper describing what comes to mind when I hear the word “resurrection”, or to ask someone else what comes to their mind when they hear that word. Here is the paper that I turned in…

I have been a Christian for a little over 5 years now. It’s a bit strange, but I have a hard time trying to recall what came to mind when I heard the word “Resurrection” before that. Generally I suppose I would have said it simply means to “rise from the dead, or “to be raised from the dead.”

In preparation of writing this, and at the urging of our instructor I decided to ask an older gentleman that I work with, what came to his mind when he heard the word “resurrection”.

This gentleman is a believer in Jesus, though I believe his theology is rather amiss many times. Still I was very interested to see what he had to say. I was  a bit surprised to get quite a “nugget of wisdom” from him, though I’m not completely sure it was intentional on his part. Either way, I was quite impressed with his answer.

When asked what came to mind when he heard the word “resurrection” the first thing that came out of his mouth was, “Well the Lord of course!” He knows my faith as we have had religious discussions several times, so I figured maybe he was just giving me the “right” answer that I wanted to hear, so I pressed him a little more. I said, “…well yeah, that is true, but what about outside of a Christian context, what would you say comes to mind, if you weren’t thinking about Jesus?” He had to think for a minute, and finally said, “Well, I suppose I would just say it means to rise from the dead, but I really don’t see how you could hear the word “resurrection” and not think about Jesus…”

I love this answer, and surprisingly it seems like Merriam-Webster might agree. I looked up the word in the dictionary, and this is the definition I found:  “1 a capitalized : the rising of Christ from the dead b often capitalized : the rising again to life of all the human dead before the final judgment c : the state of one risen from the dead.”

I decided to look the word up in another of my dictionaries that I have on my Mac-Book and found several similar definitions. Even the sentences to give the context of how to use the word mentioned something about Christ.

So it seems that my old friend on this particular day had his theology just right. You really can’t think of the word “resurrection” without thinking of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As I mentioned before becoming a Christian I would have given a definition akin to something like, “to rise from the dead, or “to be raised from the dead.” Now I see so much more to the word. The following verses I’m about to quote really are what the word now encompasses to me, and gives me such hope and such wonderful promises, now that I am a believer:

Romans 6:4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

And

Romans 8:11, If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”

The word doesn’t simply mean to “rise from the dead anymore, but it means a newness of life. We are not just restored to our old selves, but we are something completely new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Soli Deo Gloria

The wisdom of children: Another lesson from my kids…

I posted this on the Facebook page of a Christian that I truly respect (Ed Stetzer) the other day, and thought it deserved a mention here on my blog. Ed made the comment, “The Bible is all red letters…It’s all about Jesus and it’s all Spirit inspired.”

His comment reminded me of something I had just spoken with my wife about a few days earlier. Here was my response:

“I was actually telling my wife the other day, I think our 22 month old twins have it right…Every time they pick up their little Bibles, they say “Deedus”, or “Sheezus”, depending on which one asks, and they bring it over to me and climb in my lap…When they bring their Bibles to me, they want me to show them Jesus. I told my wife, they really have it right…Every time they open their Bibles they want to see Jesus, they expect to see Jesus..I think more of us need to have this attitude…”

Jesus Himself said that the Scriptures were about Him, and bore witness of Him. (Luke 24:27, John 5:39) When we open our Bibles, we ought to be doing the same thing as my sons Noah and Caleb, and looking for Jesus. The Scriptures all point to Jesus in some way. It warms my heart so much when I hear those little voices calling out the name of my Savior Jesus, (Deedus, Sheezus). I pray one day they will call out His name, as their own Savior, I pray that same prayer for all of my children. Just imagine, if it warms my heart so much, imagine how much it warms the heart of Christ…

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” -Mark 10:14-16

“And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise?” – Matthew 21:16

Post with a purpose…

Everything on this planet that was created, has a creator, and was created with a purpose. When someone builds a house, they have a purpose in mind for building that house. It is to become a home, it is to be a place where people can rest, and be protected from the outside world, and the elements of nature. When someone designs and builds a car, it is built with a purpose in mind. It is transportation, to transport someone from point A to point B.

The Bible tells us that we too, as people, have a creator. Genesis 2:7 says, “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” Multiple passages in the Old Testament speak of the way God has formed us in the womb. (Psalm 139:13, Isaiah 44:24, 49:5, Jeremiah 1:5) Seeing as though we too were created by a creator, the next logical question is, “What is our purpose?”

In my study of Scripture, I believe I’ve found two passages that give us this answer.

First, in Mark 12, Jesus is asked by a Scribe, “what is the most important commandment of all.” Jesus then says, (Mark 12:29-31) “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord your God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this; ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Jesus is here summing up what God had already told the nation of Israel back in Deuteronomy 6:4-6. Very simply what these two commandments tell us, is that we are to love God with all that we have, and with all that we are.

Second, in Ephesians 2:10 the Apostle Paul tells us this, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Very simply Paul is telling us that we were created for good works that He (God) has already prepared for us to do. God has prepared those things before the foundations of the earth. Technically I believe this last verse, can also be summed up in the previous two commands given to us by Jesus.

So what do we know so far? Everything on this planet is created, and is created with a purpose. We as people also have a creator, God, and we were created with a purpose as well. Our purpose is very simply to love God first and foremost, and to love people. These things work themselves out in various ways. But everything we do, must be rooted in our love for God first and then a love for people. If this is not the case in our lives, then we are missing our purpose. We are not doing what we were created to do.

So now we must ask ourselves, what happens when something that is created, doesn’t serve its purpose? Let’s look back to our previous two examples. When a house is not doing what it is built to do, when people aren’t living in it, when it cannot serve to protect people from the elements of nature what happens to it? Generally it is torn down and thrown away, unless it can be repaired. The same thing is true with a car. If a car is not able to do what it was created to do, when it cannot take a person from point A to point B, it is sold for scraps, or thrown into the scrap heap. That is of course, unless it can be repaired. People are no different. I believe we see great and frightening examples of this in two places in the book of Matthew. (3:12 & 25:41-46)

The great thing is though, we CAN be fixed, that is why Jesus came to earth…Read John 3:16-21 and pray.
God bless…

Be watching for a related post in the coming days…