Contemplative Bible Reading

Some thoughts about Bible verses

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Skipping Our Step

December 10th, 2017 · No Comments

John 2:19-20 (New Living Translation)

19 “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

20 “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?”

Some very important persons were upset with how Jesus was behaving in the temple—something about telling crooks to stop being crooked. These VIPs did what most VIPs of the day did, they demanded Jesus do something miraculous.

Jesus’ response was, “Okay, you do something, and I will do a miracle.”

The VIPs response was, “Ha! You can’t do that!”

Pause a moment to reflect. Jesus told the VIPs to do something first. The VIPs, however, skipped their step and jumped to what they wanted Jesus to do. How could they skip their step?

Jesus asked them to destroy the temple. They couldn’t do that. Note, it wasn’t that they wouldn’t destroy the temple, it was that they didn’t have the ability to do it. They didn’t have the dynamite or the bulldozers or the manpower.

Instead of discussing their shortcomings, they jumped over those and attacked Jesus.

Hmmm, consider that one for a moment. Hey, uh, God, let’s not consider my failings. Let’s, uh, jump to what I want from you. How often do I say the same? What’s wrong with me. Can’t I learn from their example here in John’s Gospel. God, please help me in my unbelief.

→ No CommentsTags: John · New Testament

Recognize

December 9th, 2017 · No Comments

John 1:26b (New Living Translation)

John told them, “…right here in the crowd is someone you do not recognize…”

The word “recognize” has at least two meanings that could apply here.

One is, “acknowledge the existence, validity, or legality of.”

John is saying, “You don’t acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, i.e., the one appointed by God to take away our sins.”

Another definition, “identify (someone or something) from having encountered them before; know again.”

John is saying, “Hey, don’t you know this man? The Son of God is standing right beside you. Open your eyes. Stop looking for something and someone else. He is here.”

There have been plenty of books written about what the Jews in Jesus’ day were expecting in the Christ. I think this verse is one that smacks them in the head with a baseball bat (did they have baseball bats in Judea in that day?).

Hey, the Son of God is standing right in the middle of you! Stop looking for someone or something else.

I guess the same saying holds true today. Hey, the Son of God is sitting on the stool next to you in the coffee shop. What are you looking for? Something with state-of-the-art Hollywood affects? CGI? Video game hoopla? God is here, now. Enjoy the blessing.

→ No CommentsTags: John · New Testament

Being Handed Over to the Culture of Man

December 3rd, 2017 · No Comments

Judges 13:1 (New Living Translation)

Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord handed them over to the Philistines, who oppressed them for forty years.

Bad times; very bad times. God handed His people over to the Philistines. The Philistines oppressed God’s people politically for forty years. That political persecution was obvious.

Then there was the harder-to-see but worse oppression: God’s people—who had been given a way of life, a culture from God—now had to live under the Philistine culture for two generations. Justice was gone as were forgiveness, love, guide to healthy diet, guidelines for families, etc. Instead, gosh, it was awful.

Now comes the ugly part: let’s consider how I do today. There is still a culture of love, forgiveness, and grace available to me. Do I choose that culture? Do I choose the culture of hatred, stealing, violence, etc.? Hey, I haven’t killed anyone this week. Have I hated anyone this week? Uh, no! I have shown righteous indignation to the acts of some, and that is okay, right? Really? Well…

The culture of the modern-day Philistines is all around me. It is easy to dip my toe into it or plunge into it full body and soul. I have a choice. I don’t have to go into that culture. Please God, help me to live among the Philistines while maintaining righteousness. Please God, please don’t hand me over to the Philistines.

→ No CommentsTags: Judges · Old Testament

Charging Someone to Work for God

December 2nd, 2017 · No Comments

Philemon 1:21 (New Living Translation)

I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more!

Note the quiet, easy-to-miss charge Paul states here. Paul has told the person what he wants the person to do. Paul then tosses in this extra statement.

I am sure you will do all this and then do more than I have asked.

Wow. What is going through Philemon’s mind? Whatever it might be, and Paul probably doesn’t know what it is, Paul has said, “Yes, that too. I am sure you will do that too.”

This is something to remember the next time I charge someone to do something for God. And yes, that especially includes the next time I charge myself to do something for God.

→ No CommentsTags: New Testament · Philemon

Sometimes Being a Witness is Enough

November 26th, 2017 · No Comments

Luke 7:11-16 (New Living Translation)

11 …Jesus went with his disciples to the village of Nain, and a large crowd followed him. 12 A funeral procession was coming out as he approached the village gate. The young man who had died was a widow’s only son, and a large crowd from the village was with her. … 15 Then the dead boy sat up and began to talk! … 16 Great fear swept the crowd,

This is the (hi)story of Jesus raising the only son of a widow from the dead. This woman was in a horrible situation, i.e., no men to support her in a day when that was the only way.

Large crowds were following Jesus. Large crowds were following the widow and her dead son. We have no evidence here of either large crowd doing anything for the widow. They were sympathetic; their presence showed that. No evidence of anything else.

They were, however, witnesses to a miracle that saved the life of the son and of the widow.

The large crowds that otherwise did nothing did one important thing: they saw what happened. They were moved to fear because of seeing what happened. I believe each person in these two large crowds told everyone about this for the rest of their lives. That is a lot of evangelism and that ain’t too bad for people who did nothing but witness a miracle.

Sometimes being a witness is enough.

I believe that God performs miracles right in front of me several times a day every day. I need to have my eyes open and witness.

→ No CommentsTags: Luke · New Testament

Worship or Taunt or Weep

November 25th, 2017 · No Comments

1 Samuel 1:7 (New Living Translation)

Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat.

Peninnah and Hannah were wives of Elkanah of Ramah. Elkanah brought his wives and children to Shiloh once a year for special sacrifices of worship.

Did Peninnah and Hannah use the occasion to worship? Perhaps, but we find in the verse that Peninnah used it to taunt her fellow wife. And we find that Hannah used the time to weep.

Peninnah gloated because of God’s blessings. Hannah wept because of God’s blessings (not having children for a while is also a blessing). Neither seemed to do much worshiping.

Here I sit mulling these actions and criticizing them with a few thousand years of hindsight and perspective. How well do I worship? Do I spend my time worshiping or doing something else like gloating, weeping, or just about anything else? How do I regard the blessings from God?

Sorry; no answers. Just a few questions for consideration.

→ No CommentsTags: 1 Samuel · Old Testament

Something We Have All Heard Before (Love)

November 19th, 2017 · No Comments

2 John 1:5 (New Living Translation)

I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning.

Just a reminder: love one another.

We have all heard this one before. We probably heard it way back near the beginning—whenever the beginning was for us. Just want us to know that this one still holds.

Just a reminder. love on another.

→ No CommentsTags: 2 John · New Testament

Recognizing God and God’s Creation

November 18th, 2017 · No Comments

1 John 3:1b (New Living Translation)

But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.

God is…let the world fill in the blanks here. Vengeful is often one of the answers; so is hateful. No wonder these folks don’t recognize me as a loving person who follows after God. They don’t understand God. Or maybe that’s just my excuse. How well do I represent God? Maybe they don’t recognize that I am of God because I don’t represent God well.

Now we have the surface items out of the way. Let’s see if we can delve under the surface. Fill in the blank with one word to describe God. What a nonsensical exercise. Let’s summarize the Creator of all with one word. How arrogant can I be?

How about this one for God:

God is beyond my comprehension and description.

How about this one for any person:

God’s creation is beyond my comprehension and description.

Hmmm. Now what do I do? I really dislike the second one. I mean, maybe I don’t comprehend God, but I sure have figured out you, buddy. Or have I? Or should I?

I have a headache. My ego is crushed. God, please help me through this day, today. Help me to love my fellow man. And sometimes stop me from trying to figure it all out and figure out every person—every part of your creation—I see.

→ No CommentsTags: 1 John · New Testament

Just Do Nothing (this time)

November 12th, 2017 · No Comments

Hebrews 10:35a (New Living Translation)

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord.

The verses preceding the above discuss the blessings of trusting in the Lord. The letter to Jews showed how they were now in Christ and how that brought unprecedented blessings. They, and we today, were given a confident trust in the Lord.

So this part of the text ends in a command:

Just do nothing (this time)

Whatever it is we are doing, just don’t throw away what we have been given. Gosh, that should be easy. Throwing away things is hard work. Keeping them, just see my garage, is easy. Just do nothing.

Funny how we can do nothing with worthless junk, but given a tremendous blessing, we just seem to have to try to throw it out or something. What is wrong with us?

→ No CommentsTags: Hebrews · New Testament

Armistice

November 11th, 2017 · No Comments

Psalms 46:8-11 (New Living Translation)
8 Come, see the glorious works of the Lord:
See how he brings destruction upon the world.
9 He causes wars to end throughout the earth.
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 “Be still, and know that I am God!
I will be honored by every nation.
I will be honored throughout the world.”
11 The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us;
the God of Israel is our fortress.

Today, the 11th day of the 11th month, is when the War to End All Wars ended. Of course the name given by men to that conflict was foolish. Wars did not end. The tendency of mankind to hate and kill continues.

One day, however, wars will end. That won’t come at the conclusion of a man-made and made-ended conflict. That will come when God decides and makes it so. At that time, every nation will realize the pathetic nature we have and the power of God—the power to change one heart, and another, and another. That is true power.

All nations, all peoples will honor God. Let us long for that day.

→ No CommentsTags: Old Testament · Psalms