Contemplative Bible Reading

Some thoughts about Bible verses

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I am Safe (really?)

June 25th, 2017 · No Comments

Deuteronomy 29:19-20 (New Living Translation)

19 “Those who hear the warnings of this curse should not congratulate themselves, thinking, ‘I am safe, even though I am following the desires of my own stubborn heart.’ This would lead to utter ruin! 20 The Lord will never pardon such people. Instead his anger and jealousy will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will come down on them, and the Lord will erase their names from under heaven.

No problems. I got this one. Doesn’t matter what I’m doing. I’ll be fine.

Really? Do we trust God to do what God says? Well, maybe only when God says something good about me?

I believe that God let’s us choose much of what we do. God gives us some direct statements of “if…then…else” (for us computer programming fans). God has the authority to back out of these. I doubt God will do that often. But for me? God will make special case. Right? Oh, what’s that phrase at the start of verse 20? Oh, yeah, “The Lord will never pardon such people.” Oh, well, so much for the I am safe thought.

→ No CommentsTags: Deuteronomy · Old Testament

Slow of Heart

June 24th, 2017 · No Comments

Luke 24:25 (English Standard Version)

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

What does it mean to be “slow of heart?” How can you make your heart go faster? How do you make yourself believe faster?

No, I don’t have answers. Sometimes it takes me a while to come around to an idea. Especially an idea like that fellow from Nazareth actually did rise from the dead and is walking along the road talking to me. Oh, that idea. Yeah, that might take me a while to, uh, er, come around to it or something.

→ No CommentsTags: Luke · New Testament

Whom do You Worship?

June 18th, 2017 · No Comments

Ezekiel 20:5 (New Living Translation)

Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: When I chose Israel—when I revealed myself to the descendants of Jacob in Egypt—I took a solemn oath that I, the Lord, would be their God.

The last part of this verse is quite simple and yet profound. All the people’s in the surrounding world at this time had gods, i.e., something they worshiped. Here, we have YHWH (Hebrew) or Jehovah (English), the Creator declares to be the god of the Hebrews and later the Christians.

This is the god I worship—Jehovah the Creator.

This implies the question, “Whom do you worship?”

The answer for many today is, “I worship the god of choice. I worship the god of indecision. I choose this weekend whom I worship and well, uh, next weekend, maybe some other god.”

In an agricultural ancient world, sometimes the farmer paid homage to the god of rain (we’re having a dry year and the crops are suffering) and sometimes to the god of the sun (have to bring in the hay for the winter feed and we need a few dry days).

In our amazing post post post modern world, we have the god of white powder, gold liquid, climbing the mountains, sailing the seas, and all sorts of other things that in the right context are fine, but gosh we never seem to keep them in the right context and they consume our lives in the end and become like gods and how did we ever get here.

Whom do I worship? The Creator or some other thing? The question hasn’t changed in a few thousand years.

→ No CommentsTags: Ezekiel · Old Testament

Turn and Live

June 17th, 2017 · No Comments

Ezekiel 18:23 (New Living Translation)

Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live.

In our (post post post whatever) modern world, many see God as the big punisher. God is the ultimate big brother who watches when we trip and smacks us. This, as many say, is especially true about that God in the Old Testament—the one encouraging all the invasion, imperialism, and other bad words that begin with the letter “i.”

How did this verse slip in here? The same goes for most of this chapter. The Creator wants persons to shun evil and live happily.

“But,” the post whatever modern person says, “I am happy when I consume vast quantities of pain deadening stuff and engage in vast quantities of pleasure like fill-in-the-blank.”

So, we have an opioid epidemic and several generations of persons in one-parent families. Lots of persons hurt by other persons and all that.

Evil. Happy life. Judgement. Times haven’t changed much in a three thousand years.

→ No CommentsTags: Ezekiel · Old Testament

Life Without God—No Compassion

June 11th, 2017 · No Comments

Deuteronomy 28:54 (New Living Translation)

The most tenderhearted man among you will have no compassion for his own brother, his beloved wife, and his surviving children.

God describes to His people life without God. The most tender, loving person among us will care nothing about his family—even his own children.

“I’m first. Give me the last bit of food. The rest of you go away and die somewhere.”

When was the last time we heard someone say that? Oh, I’ve never heard anyone in my family or in my church say that. That is because I have been blessed with a family and with fellow followers of Christ in my life who keep God in our lives. Lest we forget, it is pretty darn important to keep God in our lives.

Thank you God.

→ No CommentsTags: Deuteronomy · Old Testament

What Things?

June 10th, 2017 · No Comments

Luke 24:19 (New Living Translation)

“What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people.

This is a great, two-word opening to a sermon.

What things?

Please, tell me what things are amazing you at this time? What things are important in your life today? What things puzzle you? What things do you seek in your life?

What things?

And new, let’s discuss the good news that God brings to us. Perhaps this good news relates to the things in our lives.

→ No CommentsTags: Luke · New Testament

Worship = Eating + Rejoicing

June 4th, 2017 · No Comments

Deuteronomy 12:4-7 (New Living Translation)

“Do not worship the Lord your God in the way these pagan peoples worship their gods. 5 Rather, you must seek the Lord your God at the place of worship he himself will choose from among all the tribes—the place where his name will be honored. 6 There you will bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, your sacred offerings, your offerings to fulfill a vow, your voluntary offerings, and your offerings of the firstborn animals of your herds and flocks. 7 There you and your families will feast in the presence of the Lord your God, and you will rejoice in all you have accomplished because the Lord your God has blessed you.

Jehovah God is describing worship to His people. What is worship according to God in these verses?

  • Gather
  • Bring your offerings
  • Bring your family
  • Eat
  • Rejoice

Worship is eating and rejoicing. Hmmm, doesn’t sound like a lot of the “worship” services I have attended in my life.

I could recount some old jokes about “dinner on the grounds” and some of those things we used to do in the last century. There is the famous “church chicken” dish and all that (sounds like eating). Kids running around playing loudly (sounds like rejoicing). Hmmm (a second time in one post). Maybe we have neglected something.

A lot of churches today have Worship Ministers. I don’t recollect them leading in eating and rejoicing. Well, perhaps just semantics.

→ No CommentsTags: Deuteronomy · Old Testament

The Hornets from God

June 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

Deuteronomy 7:20 (English Standard Version)

Moreover, the Lord your God will send hornets among them, until those who are left and hide themselves from you are destroyed.

Jehovah, the God of the Israelites, is about punish their enemies. What does He do? Does he send mighty armies? Does He crush mighty barriers? No, He sends little flying bugs. God will send hornets. These little stinging creatures will terrorize the enemies to destroy them. Ever been stung by several hornets at once? I have; no fun.

Sometimes God uses the smallest things. He aims them at people in ways that are not natural. He controls them. What if God causes all the ants within a mile of my house to attack it. My house, my life’s work and wealth, would quickly crumble under the onslaught of little, pesky ants. No one would be able to explain it as the ants would disperse as quickly as they arrived.

Sometimes God is like that. He works in our lives by pushing the smallest things in an odd way that cause significant events. I am left to react. So, how do I react? As a follower of Christ or as something else? Please God, help me as I react to the events of life each day.

→ No CommentsTags: Deuteronomy · Old Testament

Tell Us Nice Things

May 28th, 2017 · No Comments

Isaiah 30:10 (New Living Translation)

They tell the seers,
“Stop seeing visions!”
They tell the prophets,
“Don’t tell us what is right.
Tell us nice things.
Tell us lies.

The people didn’t want to hear the message that God was sending them via the prophets. Their own disobedience had eroded them.

“Please,” the pleaded. “Tell us something nice. Even lie to us if you have to.”

Today. I hate to bring up today, but we live here, today.

“I’m just telling the truth! People don’t want to hear it, because they know it’s true. Just look at the prophet Isaiah!”

Please God, help me to consider:

  1. I’m not a prophet sent from God
  2. God didn’t give me the job of showing others’ their sins
  3. Perhaps I’m just a lousy communicator
  4. Perhaps I’m just lousy with other people
  5. Perhaps I should just shut my mouth

No, we shouldn’t lie to people about how they live and how that affects them.

Yes, there are times when we should tell others nice things. Jesus did.

→ No CommentsTags: Isaiah · Old Testament

Laughter, Joy, and Amazament

May 27th, 2017 · No Comments

Psalms 126:2 (New Living Translation)

We were filled with laughter,
and we sang for joy.
And the other nations said,
“What amazing things the Lord has done for them.”

Jehovah, the God of the Hebrews, had once again blessed them. They were filled with laughter and joy. They couldn’t contain themselves.

And the nations about them noticed all this. The nations couldn’t help but notice all this.

I believe this happens to this day. The LORD blesses, people laugh with joy, and others notice. Sometimes us life-long Christians take assume this is just the way it is for everyone all the time. Well, it isn’t. The joy of blessings from God are not with everyone, everywhere, all the time. Let us all, always, in every situation recognize the blessings and give thanks.

→ No CommentsTags: Old Testament · Psalms