Contemplative Bible Reading

Some thoughts about Bible verses

Contemplative Bible Reading header image 1

God’s Gifts (some of them)

January 21st, 2017 · No Comments

Galatians 3:5 (New Living Translation)

I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

Notice the introduction to the question asked above. It tells us about some of God’s gifts. God gives us:

  • the Holy Spirit
  • miracles

Hmm, not bad for a some of His gifts.

Now the challenge for me is to remember these and act like I have received them. Too hard to smile and move on when someone slights me? The Holy Spirit is in my ready to aid me. Something good can’t possibly happen? God provides miracles, the impossible.

Oh, well, uh, I sort of got busy and forgot. God, help me in my unbelief.

→ No CommentsTags: Galatians · New Testament

Believing and then Disbelieving

January 15th, 2017 · No Comments

Acts 12 (New Living Translation)

5 But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him.

11 Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!”

15 “You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.”

I posted the above three verses to condense a longer story. Peter is in prison and will be executed the next day. The local Christians prayed earnestly for deliverance. Verse 11 shows that Peter has been led out of prison by an angel—the prayers are answered.

Verse 15 shows the subject of this post: the believing, praying Christians didn’t believe that God had done as they prayed. It couldn’t possibly be Peter at the door because Peter was in prison. It was impossible for Peter to have walked out of prison.

I’m no better than these Christians. I pray for the impossible, but I am not ready to see the impossible when God puts it right in front of me. God, help me in my unbelief.

→ No CommentsTags: John · New Testament

Asleep on Death Row

January 14th, 2017 · No Comments

Acts 12:6 (New Living Translation)

The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate.

Peter is on death row. On the morrow, he was to go to trial. The outcome of the “trial” was known to all. Herod Agrippa was going to execute Peter right after the trial.

What is Peter doing? He is asleep. Why?

  • God put him to sleep so that he would think the angel rescue was a dream
  • Peter slept secure in the knowledge that God would arrange a rescue
  • Peter slept secure in the knowledge of his eternal salvation
  • Peter was tired, so he slept

I could think of many other explanations. All are speculations as I don’t know the answer. Here is another question: why wasn’t Peter praying? Again, I can speculate, but I don’t know.

I go back to the first bullet earlier. It seems to me that sleep—Peter was asleep as were the guards—is a big part of this (hi)story. Sometimes God uses sleep as a message to all mankind.

→ No CommentsTags: John · New Testament

The Radical Proclamation

January 8th, 2017 · No Comments

Acts 5:42 (New Living Translation)

And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, blah blah blah. NOT.

What the followers of Jesus were doing was radical. It was dangerous—deadly dangerous as some were executed for this. Here is what they were saying:

This Jesus of Nazareth, who by the way you gave to the Romans on false charges to be executed, that Jesus fellow, He was the Son of God. No kidding. He was the one Jehovah God anointed to take away the sins of the world. Follow His teachings, and this means stop following the guys who are in power right now.

Not surprising that many of these pro-claimers met untimely and often unexplained deaths. They were radicals teaching something that the power holders didn’t want to hear.

→ No CommentsTags: Acts · New Testament

The New Rite of Purification

January 7th, 2017 · No Comments

Acts 2:38 (New Living Translation)

Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This may be the most familiar verse in the Bible to many Christians. Here is my paraphrase (You may disagree with me if you wish, that is fine and expected. In a few years or days I will probably disagree with what I write today.):

Go through the rite of purification by being immersed in water. This time, purify yourselves in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, who is the Son of God, i.e., the one anointed to take away the sins of the world. This purification will bring the spirit of God to live in you. You can leave your old life behind you and live with God.

→ No CommentsTags: Acts · New Testament

Remaining

January 1st, 2017 · No Comments

John 15:5 (New Living Translation)

Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.

This is Jesus describing the Christian life. On this occasion, He is speaking to followers—those who have already accepted Him as the Son of God. His instruction is simple:

Remain in Him

Do not retract the confession of faith. Do not walk over to the other side. There isn’t much theology here. This is pretty basic. The less written, the better.

→ No CommentsTags: John · New Testament

A Confession of Murder

December 31st, 2016 · No Comments

Matthew 27:6 (New Living Translation)

The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.”

This is after the crucifixion. The leading priests are gathering the thirty pieces of silver from the floor. Why don’t they put the money in the Temple treasury?

It is blood money that was paid for a murder.

Who did the paying? Uh, oh, er, it was them. The leading priests are admitting that they had the Romans execute an innocent person, i.e., murder Jesus. There is no denial here. They know they had Jesus murdered.

→ No CommentsTags: Matthew · New Testament

The Real Meaning of Christmas from a Childlike Man

December 25th, 2016 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

This post is different from all others. Today is Christmas. So?

The best explanation I can find comes from the heart and soul of Charles Shultz. This childlike man best explains it through a little boy named Linus.

Odd, but no television network would dare make a show like this today. That is a great shame.

God bless everyone on this and everyday.

→ No CommentsTags: Luke · New Testament

Allowing Sins to Grow Big Enough

December 24th, 2016 · No Comments

Genesis 15:13-16 (New Living Translation)

13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years. 14 But I will punish the nation that enslaves them, and in the end they will come away with great wealth. 15 (As for you, you will die in peace and be buried at a ripe old age.) 16 After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.”

God promises a land to the descendants of Abram (Abraham). Not, however, for a while. How about over 400 years for a while?

Why the wait? I read a very odd reason in verse 16. Perhaps so odd that I am reading this incorrectly. The wait is so the sins of the Amorites will warrant their destruction. I don’t get it. Sorry, I have no explanation for this one. I just don’t know why you would let the sins of a people become big enough to warrant their destruction.

→ No CommentsTags: Genesis · Old Testament

A Gift that No One Else can Give

December 18th, 2016 · No Comments

John 14:27 (New Living Translation)

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Jesus gives us peace of mind and peace of heart. No one else can give that.

World leaders can give what most of us thing of as peace, i.e., no physical war. They cannot, however, give the peace that relieves the troubled heart or the anxious mind. That comes only from Jesus.

Thank you for this peace. Please help me to enjoy it, to treasure it, and to never forget its giver.

→ No CommentsTags: John · New Testament